How Facebook is Experimenting on You

Facebook conducted an experiment on more than 600,000 unwitting users.

file photo
file photo
By Brian Slupski

Facebook experimented on about 689,003 of its users without their knowledge, manipulating news feeds to see what the impact was on the human psyche.

Slate reported that Facebook wanted to see if reducing the number of positive message a person saw would make them less likely to post something positive. Ditto for negative posts. Facebook used a program to analyze whether a post contained positive or negative words.

The experiment fed some users happy information, some unhappy and some neutral, Slate wrote.

A paper on the experiment was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "The experiment manipulated the extent to which people were exposed to emotional expressions in their News Feed. This tested whether exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviors, in particular whether exposure to emotional content led people to post content that was consistent with the exposure."

The experiments occurred during one week in January in 2012.

What did the experiment find?

"The results show emotional contagion," the paper states. "[P]eople who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people's status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive."

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer expressed second thoughts about the conducting the study: "In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety." The Wall Street Journal reported that Kramer pointed out that Facebook's review process since 2012 has "come a long way since then."

Jon Hall July 01, 2014 at 08:32 AM
JohnnyMass July 01, 2014 at 09:06 AM
Facebook is for losers. Anyone who feels a need to tell the world what they ate and how many times they went to the bathroom today needs to get a life!
OpportunistWatch July 01, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Signing up for Facebook is like asking a FELON TO LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE. The felon will rob you, steal your money & ideas and spy on your every move. BEWARE OF FACEBOOK, BIG BROTHER IS ALWAYS SPYING ON YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY. Encourage your friends to cancel their membership of this invasion of privacy and PIRACY site! After all, the so-called creator/LIAR really STOLE THE IDEA FROM THE TWINS!
Jerry Kitchens July 01, 2014 at 01:50 PM
I had a nanner sammich for lunch. I have tinkled 2 times so far today. And passed gas 3 times. There, I don't need facebook to tell everyone what I did today.


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