Regular readers know that I loath Facebook, but this really takes the cake: Facebook Conducted Psychological Experiments On Unknowing Users
Essentially, when you agree to their terms and conditions, it includes conducting studies on you, and in this instance they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect your emotional state.
Guess what? It did!
The experiments sought to prove the phenomenon of “emotional contagion” — as in, whether you’ll be more happy if those in your Facebook news feed are. They took place over the week of January 11th-18th, 2012, and targeted 689,003 English-speaking Facebook users.
The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. was successful. It found that, indeed, manipulating the algorithm to show more “positive” posts in your news feed will actually inspire you to write more “positive” posts yourself. So, for example, if you see a lot of people happy about their jobs or excited to be seeing the concert of their favorite band, then you’re more likely to post that you are happy about something in your life, too.
Now then, think for a moment about what Mark Faceberg actually is in the business of selling.
Come’on, it’s E-Z. He sells you.
You are the product that he sells to advertisers, and they are the client, it is not the other way around. They gather information about you and slices and dices it to package up your demographics to an advertiser. The more of your info he has, the better he can sell you for a higher price to an advertiser.
So why is this study cause for alarm? Because Faceberg is showing his clients that Facebook can manipulate you. If you are happy, you are likely to go on a shopping trip. If your status and feed are full of happy stuff, you become that much more sellable. Guess what? He can now do that, he can make you happy (or sad, apparently). He just proved it. You think that isn’t valuable to his customers?