Monday December 18, 2017

Beware, Facebook or social media addiction can trigger cocaine-like high

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New Delhi: If the researchers from California State University-Fullerton are to be believed, then we’ve found yet another reason to stay away from Facebook and other social media. The research concluded the fact that excessive usage of social media can be as dangerous as an addiction to cocaine or gambling.

They say social media obsession may lead to something akin to classical addiction. Such use triggers two key parts of the brain associated with rewards: The amygdala which is the integrative place for emotions, behaviour and motivation and the striatum- part of the forebrain and a critical component of the reward system.

The findings, recently published in the journal Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma showed that social media-related “addictions” share some neural features with substance and gambling addictions.

Since the meteoric rise of the internet usage and emergence of various social media platforms, many young Indians have been left socially isolated and lonely.

It’s time for a reality check in our backyard.

Take Krishnan (name changed), a 15-year-old social media addict in the capital, who recently visited Dr Sameer Malhotra, director, mental health and behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare.

Hooked on to Facebook for nearly 16 hours a day, he had developed an obsessive personality profile and was neglecting priorities of life, including education.

“I have been seeing many youngsters who are in the grip of social media addiction. In the case of Krishnan, I treated him with both counselling and medication which helped channelise his energy in positive work,” Dr Malhotra told reporters.

“Facebook addiction is similar to cocaine addiction to a certain level as there are certain neurochemicals like dopamine which operate across brain reward pathways and are responsible for maintaining addictive behaviour,” he said.

According to Dr Malhotra, teenagers with Facebook addiction-like symptoms may “have a hyperactive amygdala-striatal system, which makes this ‘addiction’ similar to many other addictions.”

For Dr Samir Parikh, director of the department of mental health and behavioural Science, Fortis Healthcare, excessive use of social media is a common trend today and such preoccupation leads to an interference in one’s social, occupational as well as other areas of functioning.

“Yes, it could be considered similar to drug addiction to a certain level though it is not exactly the same. The difference is more in terms of the physiological manifestations involved in the influence of a substance,” Dr Parikh told reporters.

Addiction is defined as repetitive habit pattern that increases the risk of diseases or associated personal and social problems. It is a subjective experience of “loss of control”.

Addiction connotes dependence because there are common neurochemical and neuroanatomical pathways found among all addictions- whether it is substance, gambling, sex, eating, internet use or Facebook obsession.

“They all display similar patterns of behaviour like the inability to abstain, impairment in behaviour control, craving, diminished recognition of significant behavioural problems, interpersonal issues and a dysfunctional emotional response,” says Dr Birendra Yadav, psychology clinical operations at telehealth venture- Poccare, Healthenablr.

Experts say Facebook addiction can lead to impulse-control disorders, especially among adolescents where it has led to high prevalence of depression, aggressive behaviour and psychiatric symptoms.

The social media has also been found to have affected lifestyles, resulting in irregular dietary habits, decreased physical activity, short duration of sleep and increased use of alcohol and tobacco.

Is it true that getting out of Facebook addiction is easier than that of substance abuse?

“This is subjective and depends on the context, personality and state of mind of the individual concerned and you need to build the willpower of the person through both counselling and medication,” Dr Malhotra says.

“Overcoming any kind of addiction is possible with adequate professional interventions,” Dr Parikh said.

The bottom line: use social media, but do not let it take over your life. Investing time in “real” relationships rather than in the cyber world can lead to improved mental health, say experts. (Nishant Arora, IANS)

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Google gets the better of Facebook as top referral source for publishers

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

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Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017
Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers' main source of external page views over the course of 2017. VOA
  • Google webpage traffic increases considerably
  • Facebook went down by 26% in January as compared to last year
  • Video publishing feature might has add up to the Facebook traffic

San Francisco, Dec 12,2017: Google has beaten Facebook to become publishers’ main source of external page views over the course of 2017, a new data showed.

Google used to be the main source of referral traffic for web publishers. Then Facebook eclipsed it, ReCode reported late on Monday.

According to digital analytics company Parse.ly, Google sent more traffic than Facebook to publishers — Facebook sent 25 per cent less traffic to publishers in 2017, while Google increased its traffic by 17 per cent.

In January, Facebook provided nearly 40 per cent of publishers’ external traffic which is now down to 26 per cent.

Google web traffic
Google AMP feature has helped it to add up to the web traffic

Google, which started the year at 34 per cent, generated 44 per cent of the total traffic.

Parse.ly pointed out a number of factors for this turnaround.

In 2016 Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends and family over publishers.

Also, Facebook’s “Instant Articles” feature, where the service hosted some publishers’ content directly but promised to send more readers to the original site as well, has declined in importance, the analytics company found.

Since users can now publish videos directly on Facebook, this might have affected how many links to web stories publishers put on their Facebook pages.

Google’s “accelerated mobile pages” (AMP) feature, which also hosts publishers’ content directly on Google’s servers, became more important over the year.

AMP stories – typically from news publishers – are surfaced at the top of mobile search results as “Top Stories,” which drives clicks. (IANS)

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Facebook Introduces Digital Training and Start-up hubs in India to Promote Digital Economy

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Facebook launched digital training in India
Facebook launched digital training in India.Pixaby.

New Delhi, Nov 23: Facebook on Wednesday introduced its digital training and start-up training hubs in India aimed at helping small businesses and people grow by giving them the digital skills they need to compete in today’s digital economy.

Facebook said it plans to train more than half a million people in the country by 2020 through these online training hubs, which are being rolled out first in India.

The learning curriculum which is personalised to the individual’s needs and available in English and Hindi on mobile, the social network, which is used by 217 million people in India, announced.

“We believe the best way to prepare India for a digital economy is by equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programmes, Facebook, India and South Asia.

To develop the learning curriculum, the social network worked with several organisations, including Digital Vidya, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), DharmaLife and the government’s StartupIndia initiative.

The curriculum includes vital skills for digital skill seekers and tech entrepreneurs, including how to protect their ideas, how to hire, how to go about getting funding, what regulations and legal hurdles they need to consider, how to build an online reputation, and a host of other critical skills.

This could mean teaching a small business owner how to create an online presence; helping a non-profit reach new communities and potential donors; or it could mean helping a tech entrepreneur turn their product idea into a startup through practical business advice.

Facebook said its digital training hub would provide free social and content marketing training for anyone – from students to business owners – who is looking to develop their digital knowledge and skills.

According to new research by Morning Consult in partnership with Facebook, small businesses use of digital translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the country.

Since 2011 Facebook has invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses globally.

The “Boost Your Business” and “SheMeansBusiness” initiatives have trained more than 60,000 small businesses, including 12,000 women entrepreneurs, in India, Facebook said. (IANS)

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Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter Join The Trust Project to Help Users Combat Fake News

In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan "The Trust Project"

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To Combat Fake News
To Combat Fake News Facebook, Twitter , Google have joined 'The Trust Project'. PIxabay.

San Francisco, Nov 19: In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)