For hundreds of thousands of Facebook users, the online networking page has looked a little different of late. That’s because Facebook has been toying with peoples news feeds in order to see how an overwhelming amount of happy or sad updates changes their own mood.
That’s right, Facebook is trying to see just how much they can control your emotions.
“I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused,” Adam D.I. Kramer, the project’s head researcher, wrote in a blog post following initial backlash to the tests.
By manipulating what types of advertisements, status updates and news-stories were posted to someone’s feed, Facebook could then determine how the user reacted. According to Kramer, the initial testing had minimal impact on emotions conveyed in statuses to come.
While what Facebook was doing wasn’t illegal, and is contained within the user agreement, it has been heavily criticized within the psychological research community.
I wonder if Facebook KILLED anyone with their emotion manipulation stunt. At their scale and with depressed people out there, it's possible.—
Lauren Weinstein (@laurenweinstein) June 29, 2014