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Facebook secretly experimented with the moods of 700000 of its users

2014-06-30 09:25 by
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A Facebook Inc. researcher apologized after conducting an experiment that temporarily influenced what almost 700,000 readers saw on their news feeds, reviving some customers' concerns about privacy issues. The company tweaked the Newsfeed algorithms of 689,003 unwitting Facebook users, so that people were seeing an abnormally low number of either positive or negative posts. The study based on users' behaviour found that when people saw fewer positive posts on their feeds, they produced fewer positive posts and instead wrote more negative posts. On the flip side, when scientists reduced the number of negative posts on a person's newsfeed, those individuals became more positive themselves.

"Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness," study authors Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffrey Hancock write. "We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues."

Legally, Facebook is allowed to do this. As soon as users sign up for the social network, they agree to give up their data for analysis, testing and research. In this case, however, it's not the research people are criticizing - it's the manipulation of data without users' prior consent or knowledge.

"I wonder if Facebook KILLED anyone with their emotion manipulation stunt. At their scale and with depressed people out there, it's possible," the privacy activist Lauren Weinstein wrote in a Twitter post.

Read more -here-

 

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