Facebook is experimenting with ways to make the site a little more compassionate.
It’s no secret that Facebook can serve as a platform for bullying. In fact, cyber bullying occurs on Facebook more than any other site, according to a study last year by Internet security company McAfee. It turns out that 92% of the teenagers surveyed have witnessed bullying on Facebook.
But in Facebook’s earlier days, the tools for reporting malicious behaviour were subpar.
So back in 2010, Facebook Engineering Director Arturo Bejar decided to do something about it, Noah Shachtman of Wired reports. After attending a talk about kindness at the Wisdom 2.0 conference, Bejar felt inspired to implement compassion into the core of Facebook’s business.
Bejar set up “compassion research days” and brought in academics from Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford to teach them the Buddhist-inspired concept of compassion.
They suggested Facebook make its reporting tools more personal, conversational, and emotional. So instead of tagging something as “Embarrassing,” users could say “It’s embarrassing.”
The changes were small at first, but they ultimately increased usage by 30%. Later changes included more personalised messages and even culture-specific pleas.
The basis of Buddhist compassion is that we’re all interconnected, and as Shactman notes, there’s no other place where that is more obvious than on Facebook.
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