Meta Launches State of Social Connections Report

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Feelings of connectedness, as measured by loneliness and social support, varied across the countries surveyed. Consistent results include the finding that people with larger social networks tended to feel more connected, and people who said they were struggling financially tended to feel less connected to others.  

A new Gallup report, released in collaboration with Meta, finds that in the wake of social disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most people across the countries studied said they felt connected to others. When asked about feelings of connectedness, majorities said they felt “very” or “fairly” connected to others. In the United States, 75% of people felt very or fairly connected, and just 7% said they did not feel connected to others at all. Egypt (87%) and France (82%) were the countries where the most people said they felt very or fairly connected to others.

The State of Social Connections report is based on an in-depth, Meta-commissioned survey of people’s social connections in seven countries: Brazil, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States. For this survey, at least 2,000 people ages 15+ in each country were surveyed between April and June 2022. Countries were chosen based on the representativeness of languages spoken globally, population size, and world region. Throughout the study, from inception to report writing, Gallup and Meta consulted with prominent academic advisors with expertise in one or more areas covered by the survey.

“We’re committed to giving researchers the power to understand social media’s impact on society,” said Dr. Anya Drabkin, senior researcher at Meta. “That’s why we sought out Gallup for their deep global experience, consulted with academic experts at every step, and invested in conducting the study across multiple diverse countries. My team is excited about the findings we explore in this report, including how people use our apps to seek help when they need it. We look forward to continuing this partnership in the coming year and sharing more research that advances our understanding of these important topics.”

Across all countries surveyed, people were most likely to say they interacted with friends or family who live with or near them at least once per day in the past week. About a quarter or more in each country said they interacted with friends or family who live far away at least daily. While in-person interactions were the most frequently reported method of connecting with others, at least a third of people in all countries surveyed except India said they had interacted with others through social media daily or more in the past week. Daily interactions over social media were most common in Brazil (59%) and Mexico (51%).

“The study did not find any association between daily interactions through social media and less frequent in-person interaction,” said Dr. Telli Davoodi, senior social science researcher at Gallup. “In fact, people in each country who said they interacted with others through social media daily or more were also more likely to interact as frequently with others in person.”

At least one-third of people across countries surveyed said they needed support or help in the past thirty days. Consistent with how they interact in general, people most frequently said they interacted with others either in person or through phone calls to get support. Many in each country also said they used social media to get the support or help they needed, with at least 23% and up to 48% of respondents, depending on the country, saying they had sought help through Facebook/Facebook Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp in the past thirty days.

In addition to measuring how people interact and get support or help, Meta and Gallup delved into a better understanding of who felt more lonely and less socially supported. Overall, there were notable relationships between the number of friends people had and feelings of loneliness in all countries surveyed except Indonesia, but the relationships were not always straightforward. In France, Brazil, and Mexico, reporting having more friends was generally related to lower levels of loneliness. However, in the United States, Egypt and India, the relationship did not follow the same pattern. In the United States and Egypt, having more friends was, in fact, related to feeling less lonely, but only up to a certain number of friends. In general, across countries surveyed, people who said they had more friends also reported greater access to social support.

Many of the factors related to feelings of connectedness, as measured by loneliness and social support, varied across the countries surveyed. However, some results were more consistent, including the finding that people with larger social networks tended to feel more connected, and people who said they were struggling financially tended to feel less connected to others.

Such findings hint at the potential for ongoing research into social connections to improve people’s lives. The State of Social Connections study contributes to a richer understanding of people’s connections, as well as what factors are associated with higher and lower feelings of connection. Meta and Gallup will continue their research collaboration and will conduct further research using the Gallup World Poll to learn more about social connections around the world.