Facebook has announced plans to tackle a youth suicide epidemic. Among the methods of struggle – tracking user messages about suicide and self-harm. The corporation also intends to hire a security manager. One of the most important changes in Facebook’s policy is the ban on self-image hosting. True, the methods of Facebook are in doubt among experts who have studied the connection between the increase in the number of suicides among adolescents and youth and social networks using Instagram as an example. Janine Hydry, a professor at the School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University, along with her colleagues in April, published a study on the nature of talking about suicide on Instagram. Researchers found that posts that mentioned and graphically portrayed suicidal ideas aroused higher user interest than other posts. According to Dan Romer, research director at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Adolescent Communication, the fact that public health organizations do not use Instagram to fight teen suicides is a potentially missed opportunity, especially given how popular the platform is among young people. “At a minimum, this behavior may seem normal,” says Romer. “[Such posts] may prompt someone to imitate them.” In May, he and his co-authors published a study that looked at how Instagram selfie pictures affect an audience. They found that within a month after viewing such images, 60% of people thought about doing harm to themselves. The work showed another thing: only 20% of people intentionally searched for selfieharm content on Instagram. This means that a large number of people who were susceptible to these images found them by chance. In this light, Facebook’s intention to complicate the search for such posts will be ineffective. Also, according to the MIT Technology Review, it is unclear how Facebook intends to achieve its goal – to prohibit the placement of self-image images. “They will need AI to identify these images because there are too many of them,” says Romer. Another idea of Facebook is to encourage friends and relatives of potential suicides to support a person in a difficult situation. Janine Gwidry noted that on Instagram she saw a lot of supportive comments under suicide records. Therefore, she believes that people on social networks can really help and take care. However, Dan Romer is not convinced that an attempt to engage loved ones is feasible. “How do I know which user is a friend of the person [posting]? And how do you identify people who can help? ” Facebook’s plan to hire a security expert also met more questions than endorsements. “This is a huge layer of work,” says Romer. “I will be interested to see who can do it.” It could be perhaps a specialist who worked in a similar position in a large healthcare organization such as WHO. Because this is the skill level that Facebook is looking for. ” Meanwhile, a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry shows that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social networks actually have more mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior. The study covered 6.6 thousand young Americans aged 12 to 15 years who told how much time per day they spend on social networks, as well as whether they have any mental health problems. Researchers have found that three hours of social networking is enough to worsen the state of the psyche. Moreover, the influence of social media consumption on adolescents is manifested in two main ways, according to the authors of the study: internally (depression and anxiety) and externally (aggressive or antisocial behavior). The last symptoms were practically absent in adolescents who reported that they did not use social networks. Kira Rim, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study, says the three-hour threshold should not be taken as a specific boundary. According to Rome, it is worth noting the main idea of the study: excessive waste of time on social networks does not improve the mental state of people.
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