Facebook Groups as Therapy
People are sharing their deepest secrets on Facebook. Does the social network understand what it’s gotten into?
It was Christopher’s therapist who suggested he look for help online. His wife had cheated on him, and he had been struggling since their divorce, but the $25 copays were adding up. His therapist proposed an online support group—free, discreet, available 24/7.
So he went, naturally, to Facebook, where a search turned up multiple private groups for people dealing with a partner’s infidelity. (Christopher had divorced his wife after finding out that their daughter was not his biological child. When I interviewed him, he asked that we withhold his real name.) From there, he got invitations to other support groups on Facebook, more targeted and even more specific: a group for families dealing with misattributed paternity, a group for children learning the same from DNA tests.
As Sarah Zhang reports at The Atlantic, “People are sharing their deepest secrets on Facebook” in a myriad number of support groups for things like marital infidelity, learning that you do not share DNA with your parents, as well as for those suffering from diseases like cancer. Given Facebook’s lousy reputation for maintaining user privacy and for managing bad actors on the platform, does the social network have any idea of what their responsibilities are with regard to protecting vulnerable users from exploitation by trolls and manipulators? Read her remarkable story HERE.