How Instagram and Facebook are intentionally designed to mimic addictive painkillers

"Painkiller apps" increase the likelihood of addiction.
Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

Americans check their phones 262 times a day on average. Much of this time is spent on social media.
Several ex-employees of Apple, Google, and Facebook apps are deliberately designed to be addictive.
App developer Peter Mezyk says Facebook and Instagram users can become dependent on apps as one would painkillers.
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Earlier this year, Reviews.org surveyed 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older to learn more about their behavior with their cell phones. The survey found that, on average, Americans check their phones 262 times per day.
It may seem as though our behavior around smartphones is as a result of our wiring, but actually, it’s a little more thought-out than that – behind all the flashing and the beeping is something called "behavioral design".
"The success of an app is often measured by the extent to which it introduces a new habit," said app developer Peter Mezyk in an interview with Insider.
The developer is the head of international app agency Nomtek, which has developed apps for dictionary Pons, travel and tourism company Tui, and media company, Prosieben Sat1.

According to Mezyk, there are actually two sorts of app – one a painkiller, the other a supplement.
Hannah Schwär / Business Insider Deutschland

If we open an app every day, developers are satisfied. On social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the more time we spend on the platform, the more advertising revenue flows into the pockets of tech companies – attention is currency.
It’s for this reason that critics have accused the likes of Facebook and Instagram of deliberately designing their apps in a way that makes them addictive – behavioral design comes into play here.
There are three steps to an app manipulating our behavior"Three criteria are required to form a habit: sufficient motivation, an action, and a trigger," says Mezyk. The three-pronged approach, which is now standard among app developers, is based on the Fogg Behavior model, established by Stanford professor B.J. Fogg.
A certain feeling or motivation is a prerequisite for opening an app at all. This could be, for example, the anticipation we feel when our mobile phone vibrates but it can also be the fear of missing something.
In addition to motivation, action is necessary that pulls us into the behavioral loop – such as clicking on the app or tapping a "Like" button. The hurdle should be as low as possible.
Whether an action takes place also depends on the trigger. It’s the trigger that pulls us into the app, like our phone vibrating or the screen lighting up with a new message.
There are two types of apps – painkiller apps and supplement appsBehavioral modification doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing; apps can help us to become more productive or to do more exercise.
However, several ex-employees of Apple, Google, and Facebook have warned that large tech companies deliberately design apps to be addictive. The logic is simple: the more time you spend on the app, the more profit it generates.
According to these ex-employees’ accusations, tech giants try to maximize the time you spend on an app to maximize their profit, regardless of its impact on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of its users.

According to Mezyk, the reason some apps are so addictive is that most companies first ask themselves how they can make money with them.
BI

According to Mezyk, however, it’s mainly one category of app that’s the culprit.
"There are actually two sorts of app – one a painkiller, the other a supplement," he said.
"Supplement apps", according to the developer, solve specific problems, streamline things, and make our lives easier – for example, traffic, banking, and translation apps. Generally, they satisfy our need for information quite quickly so we can use them quite sporadically and fleetingly.
The potential for addiction is exceptionally high with social media appsThe situation is quite different with "painkiller apps".
According to Mezyk, they don’t satisfy a clearly defined need; we simply find them attractive.
"They typically generate a stimulus, which usually revolves around negative emotions such as loneliness or boredom," he said, citing Instagram and Facebook as examples.

Several ex-employees of Apple, Google and Facebook have warned that large tech companies deliberately design apps to be addictive.
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According to Mezyk, the potential for addiction is considerably heightened when we use "painkiller apps" rather than "supplement apps".
"Facebook is a good example of a supplement that can quickly transform into a painkiller when you begin to get to the stage where you can’t manage without it any longer," he said. There’s no point in demonizing apps, however – monetisation and ethical app development are not mutually exclusive.
"The reason some apps are addictive is that most companies first ask themselves how they can make money with them – but ethical app development focuses on the user," argued Mezyk.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-has-been-deliberately-designed-to-mimic-addictive-painkillers-2018-12

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