Like button most ‘toxic’ feature on social media, Royal Society for Public Health finds

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The ‘Like’ button is considered the most harmful feature of social media, a survey for the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has found.

A poll of more than 2,000 people for the public body by Populus found teenagers and adults considered the button the most ‘toxic’ feature built into apps, just above push notifications that continually pull people back onto the sites.

The findings prompted the RSPH to call on social media companies to rethink the “architecture” of their sites.

The call comes as the health organisation is urging people to go “cold turkey” and forego all personal social media apps for a month.

Sunday sees the start of the RSPH’s second Scroll Free September campaign, which around 300,000 people took part in last year.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “While we welcome steps by industry to mitigate harms related to social media use, it is notable that two of the most toxic elements of platforms are the like button and push notifications – elements specifically created by social media companies themselves. 

“Along with our campaign to raise public awareness and help users build balanced relationships with social media, there is also a duty of care that falls on industry. The architecture of social media must be built to encourage meaningful use and, most importantly, place the user behind the wheel.”

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