Facebook manipulated users’ emotions as part of psychological experiment – study

WebInvestigator.KK.org - by F. Kaskais

AFP Photo / Leon Neal
AFP Photo / Leon Neal

Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on its users by manipulating their emotions without their knowledge, a new study reveals.

Researchers toyed with the feelings of 689,003 randomly selected English-speaking Facebook users by changing the contents of their news feed, according to a paper published in the June edition of the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists’ (PNAS).

During a week-long period in January 2012, researchers staged two parallel experiments, reducing the number of positive or negative updates in each user’s news feed.

“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks,” said the authors of the paper, who include researchers from Facebook, Cornell University, and the…

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