A clinic for Facebook addicts has opened in Algeria amid fears vulnerable users are becoming brainwashed by extremist Islamist groups on the ‘blue magic’ social network. The private facility has been opened in the eastern city of Constantine offering programmes specifically designed for social media users.
It comes as it was revealed that there are 10 million Facebook users in the country – and that the number of users is growing by 10% a year. The clinic’s director, Human development scientist Raouf Boqafa, said he feared some vulnerable users were being targeted by Islamists who use the site as a recruitment tool.
Counselling sessions are available for ‘patients’ at the treatment centre which aims to ‘ween’ Algerians off their dependency to Facebook. It was reported he wants to tackle ‘Blue magic, the magic of Facebook and the wider internet.’ His team will also address addiction to drugs, smoking and alcohol.
He added, ‘There is some danger in underestimating the damage of Facebook addiction compared to the risk of physical drugs. The idea came to limit the three effects of the addiction, to reduce the psychological, social, and security damage experienced by one who lives in the virtual world.