Facebook Experiment Messes With Your Emotions

Business / Editorial
Image Courtesy of TheNextWeb

Image Courtesy of TheNextWeb

We’ve not been too kind to Facebook here on Techaeris in the past, though to be honest they probably deserve our ire.  A recently released study shows just how much Facebook loves to tinker:  This time, with your emotions.

From New Scientist:

A team of researchers, led by Adam Kramer at Facebook in Menlo Park, California, was curious to see if this phenomenon would occur online. To find out, they manipulated which posts showed up on the news feeds of more than 600,000 Facebook users. For one week, some users saw fewer posts with negative emotional words than usual, while others saw fewer posts with positive ones.

Digital emotions proved somewhat contagious, too. People were more likely to use positive words in Facebook posts if they had been exposed to fewer negative posts throughout the week, and vice versa. The effect was significant, though modest.

I wonder if this is why Facebook always seems to “forget” that everybody wants to see “Most Recent” rather than “Top” Stories?  Even better? It seems that nothing in this study was against the Terms of Service that everybody agrees to when creating a Facebook account.

From Animal NY:

According to the authors of this study, it was all perfectly legal. Using an algorithm that can recognize negative or positive words, the researchers were able to comb through NewsFeeds without actually viewing any text that may have been protected under users’ privacy settings. “As such, it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research,” the study’s authors wrote.

I think we all know by now that companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. study our habits extensively.  While companies like Amazon and Google do this in order to better promote their ads, services, and products, it almost seems like Facebook just wants to mess with everybody.

I often wonder what will be the final straw that breaks Facebook for good.  People generally complain about unpopular changes to the UI, groan about the possibility of auto-playing ads, and flat-out ignore frightening changes to their Privacy Policy.  What will finally make people take notice?  Maybe toying with their emotions is a good place to start.



Source: Animal New York, New Scientist

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