It’s so hard to break-up in the era of Facebook and Instagram

You take your phone. You open Facebook or Instagram. And you begin to scroll through your feed. There’s a new notice: your ex is now “in a relationship”. Or maybe the social network’s algorithm has decided to show you photos to remind you of that vacation you took together. Or better yet, you get a friend suggestion who turns out to be the mother of your ex’s new partner. We all know that these things can easily happen. These situations can easily make a breakup even more painful in respect to how it was before social networks.

This was highlighted in a new study, conducted by experts from the University of Colorado at Boulder, was published in Proceeding of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. To test it, scientists interviewed volunteers who had had unpleasant run-ins with their exes in the last 18 months. The trend that emerged is “disturbing”. Even when we take all possible precautions to remove an ex from our online life, social media continues to bring them up, even several times a day. “It seems like it is enough to remove an ex and their friends,” said Anthony Pinter, one of the authors of the study, “but our work has shown this not to be the case. It isn’t enough.” The so-called “problem of algorithm insensibility,” which has already been put in the spotlight by the research project of the NAtional SCience Foundation, Humanizing Algorithms.

The authors of this study suggest that the programers should  pay close attention to “social periphery”, which are the “indirect” connections between two users (friends in common, group photos, events) and take appropriate countermeasures. In the meantime, Pinter says that the best option is the most drastic. “Take a break from social networks. Stop at least long enough for the pain of the breakup to subside.”

HFTHQ 20-02