Does Facebook want you to spend less time on Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that passive consumption of social media is bad. If you’re sitting at home alone and all you’re doing is scrolling through social media feeds hour after hour, it is bad for your health. Ideally, if Zuckerberg really does care about users of his various social networks, he’d want them to become active users who contribute to social discourse as well as just reading what others have posted. Recent Facebook innovations show a move in this direction, but there is a movement gathering pace in the tech world, and it has Facebook in its sights. That movement is the “Time Well Spent” movement.

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We’ve recently seen both Apple and Google bring in new features on their mobile operating systems that help people control the amount of time they’re spending on their phones. Apple’s new feature tracks phone usage and can even set limits. Google’s new control panel will show how much time you’ve been spending, which apps you’ve been spending it on, and will even recommend that you take breaks. It now looks like Facebook is testing out a similar feature.

The new Facebook feature, first spotted by engineer Jane Manchun Wong, is called Your Time on Facebook. Although it has only been seen in the code of an unreleased version of Facebook; if it is released officially, it will help allow you to see how much time you’re spending on the social network each day.

Facebook usage notifications
Facebook will start telling you how much time you’re spending on Facebook

Facebook confirmed to Tech Crunch that it will be rolling out this new feature, but is yet to talk of an official release date:

“We’re always working on new ways to help make sure people’s time on Facebook is time well spent.”

The interesting thing about the Facebook usage panel, leaked by Wong, is its simplicity. It offers only very basic metrics and makes no distinction between passive and unhealthy time on the site, and active participation, which Zuckerberg claims is better for both users and society. Hopefully, Facebook will improve its control panel, but if the control panel on Facebook-owned Instagram is anything to go by that is just wishful thinking.


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