Saturday, June 28, 2014

Facebook's Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment

The Atlantic reports:
Facebook’s News Feed—the main list of status updates, messages, and photos you see when you open Facebook on your computer or phone—is not a perfect mirror of the world.
But few users expect that Facebook would change their News Feed in order to manipulate their emotional state.
We now know that’s exactly what happened two years ago. For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves.
This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it. 
I am not sure how this is significantly different from companies running A/B tests on ads, direct advertising etc.   But capitalist haters are going to jump on this.


1 comment:

  1. This explains the 'top stories' default that reasserts itself every day. 'most recent' has to be manually set daily.