Facebook has been tinkering with your news feed in a physiological experiment that borders on illegality. The social media giant has apparently been playing with your mood, you the person who logs in a dozen times daily to check your notifications.
Participants in the anonymous study had no idea they were being used as guinea pigs. The experiment revolved around targeted keywords, positive phrases such as “excited” to determine posting rank on your news feed. The more positive the post, the higher it appeared in your news feed.
You always thought your time line was sequential, didn’t you? Part of the Facebook user agreement involves terminology which allows the company to do things like this:
“Internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”
Basically, Facebook can do whatever they want with what you post. Who knows what they’ve done already. Studies have shown that people confronted with happier Facebook posts are more prone to uplifting posts themselves. Sounds pretty harmless, right?
Partially, but it would at least be nice to know how they’re manipulating the data you consume.
689,000 users were subjected to the study in 2012 which revealed the correlation between positive and negative posts. Facebook has come under fire for the anonymous study, with whistle blowers screaming for litigation. New Scientist magazine published results of the study this week, inciting the critics.
“Given the massive scale of social networks such as Facebook, even small effects can have large aggregated consequences,” the report stated. “Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behavior.”
Revelations of the experiment have prompted comparisons to George Orwell’s classis novel 1984. Big brother indeed is watching.
Facebook released an unapologetic statement in response to intense backlash over the weekend.
“We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible. A big part of this is understanding how people respond to different types of content, whether it’s positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow.”
Personal note: It should come as no surprise that Facebook reserves the right to manipulate algorithms that impact your news feed. This is happening every day, whether you realize it or not. Everything you put on social media is being dissected and analyzed by many more people than the few who make up