A series of interviews conducted with industry insiders has highlighted a number of features utilized by social media applications that are designed to increase the amount of time that users spend online. This issue is tackled by Panorama, a television program produced by the UK broadcaster BBC, and the program discussed a number of design choices that social media platforms employ to hook users to their mobile applications.
One of the features that social media platforms use to increase the amount of time spent by users on their applications is the Infinite Scroll feature. This user interface design was developed by Aza Raskin back in 2016 and this feature allows users to continue viewing content without clicking. However, Raskin noted that this design does not provide sufficient time for the user's brain to catch up with their impulses, which results in the continued scrolling and an increase in the total amount of time spent by people on the social media applications. Another industry insider discussed the impact of "likes" on the behavior of social media users. Leah Pearlman, who is credited to be one of the co-inventors of Facebook's like button, stated that at some point, she relied on the number of likes that she is getting for validation and feedback. Furthermore, social media platforms also attract people through the creative use of color and sound in their applications.
For its part, a senior Facebook official stated that it is working with researchers and other groups to study the features that may bring harm to its users. Moreover, Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram are already working to help users monitor and even limit the amount of time people spend online. For example, the Your Time on Facebook tool allows users to see how much time has been spent on the social networking site in the last seven days, while a similar feature is currently being developed by Instagram. The company had also recently modified its algorithm to focus on content posted by users' friends, which should result in more meaningful engagement on its platform. Snapchat, on the other hand, denied that it is using visual tricks to increase user engagement on its service.