Teaching Facebook's 1.3 Billion Users to Play Nice

“Believe it or not, most of the time people do mean well.”


Thu, Oct 23rd, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The impossible-sounding job to teach its 1.3 billion users to be nice to each other falls on the shoulders of Arturo Bejar, "director of engineering for the Facebook Protect and Care team." Bejar, who believes that "most users are not trying to be mean," is building tools which, in order to make social media successful, teach its users to "be kinder and more empathetic."

On Facebook, teenagers are presented with more options than just “it’s embarrassing” when they want to remove a post. They are asked what’s happening in the post, how they feel about it and how sad they are. In addition, they are given a text box with a polite pre-written response that can be sent to the friend who hurt their feelings. (In early versions of this feature, only 20 percent of teenagers filled out the form. When Facebook added more descriptive language like “feelings” and “sadness,” the figure grew to 80 percent.)

“We’ve played around with having pre-populated messages versus no message at all,” Dr. Brackett said. “If kids are given a blank box, often times they are going to say things that are not going to be helpful,” including cursing at their friends. When Facebook offered more developed responses like “This post is mean. It makes me feel sad and I don’t want it on Facebook,” 85 percent of teenagers who wanted a post removed sent a message.



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