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Working Group

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 Social media technologies are designed to provide users with a smooth and rapid experience, minimizing obstacles or 'frictions' that could hinder user engagement. Despite the traditional view that such frictions are negative, this paper proposes that they may be crucial for promoting a healthier dissemination of information online. As the internet offers myriad ways for information to be shared—from direct methods like email and text to broad platforms like Instagram, X, and TikTok—each platform's unique design choices influence how easily information is created, shared, and accessed. 

The question arises: is a frictionless user experience always beneficial? Platforms with lower friction offer a more seamless experience, which may make them more appealing compared to less streamlined alternatives. Yet, introducing friction can serve as a selective filter, influencing both the nature of the information shared and the cognitive engagement of users. Given that over 60% of the global population uses social media, which has been linked to increased polarization and the spread of misinformation, we advocate for the strategic implementation of friction to ensure social media optimally benefits individuals and society at large. 


Joshua GarlandJoshua GarlandArizona State University
Jan EissfeldtJan EissfeldtGlobal Head, Trust & Safety at Wikimedia Foundation
Seungwoong HaSeungwoong HaApplied Complexity Fellow Santa Fe Institute - Siegel Research Fellow

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