The founder of Facebook's iconic "like" button says apps, notifications and social media are as addictive as heroin and he's removed them from his life.

Software engineer Justin Rosenstein developed the "like" feature for the social media site as a way of rating the popularity of people's posts.

Rosenstein said a decade later he has cut himself off from notifications and other online distractions.

In an in-depth interview with The Guardian, Rosenstein said he has banned all apps on his phone because he doesn't trust himself not to get addicted to them.


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Rosenstein believes social media and other apps can be as addictive as heroin and that they are having a noticeably detrimental effect on people's ability to focus.

"Everyone is distracted. All of the time," he told The Guardian.

He told The Guardian he set up his laptop to block access to Reddit, deleted his Snapchat account and went a step further by setting his iPhone with a parental control feature that prevents him downloading any new apps.

"One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before," he said.

"If we only care about profit maximisation, we will go rapidly into dystopia."

His concerns over notifications are backed up by the latest scientific research into apps, which point to some of the negative effects that they can have.

In one recent study, experts examined the effect of more than 500,000 pop-up notifications and found that one third of notifications had a negative impact on mood.


Automated alerts were found to have the biggest impact, with work-related messages coming in second.

In a group of 50 participants, they found that 32 per cent of the digital communications had the power to bring about negative emotions.

This included causing people to feel hostile, upset, nervous, afraid or ashamed, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.

To make their findings, the researchers created an app called NotiMind, which participants installed on their handsets.

It collected information automatically about the nature and frequency of notifications.

Users were also asked to use it report their mood throughout the day.