Is Facebook one big social experiment with you as the lab rat?

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Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment

It turns out that some of the Facebook scientists have just published some research that reveals they manipulated content that was seen by more than half a million people!

That’s a rather a lot of data!

This research called “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published over in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences.

Essentially the paper indicates how Facebook scientists skewed news feeds with either a positive of negative sentiment for randomly selected users.

The analysis that then took place was to see how the users responded by either posting more negative or more positive posts themselves. At the heart of this was to reveal if emotional states can be influenced over social networks.

Now here’s the good stuff, it can!!

OK, maybe not rocket science, as we all know our emotional states can very much be influenced by what we engage with online, and facebook statuses are no exception.

There is a quite a bit of fall out about this spinning around the web mind you, I mean how would you feel if you found out you were “manipulated” in this way?

Facebook is by no means silly, and of course the terms and conditions clearly have such manipulation covered. The policy does indicate that the data (which we do not own, facebook does) can be used in a variety of ways – and the scientists apparently have stated this research use is covered in their policy.

Indeed many of the top facebook scientists are drawn to work for facebook due to having access to such ground-breaking data about the human race.

So I again put it to you, we are lab rats – even though we can use the platform for our own gain in terms of marketing and advertising opportunities, we’re all in this together really.

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About Chris Hambly

Chris Hambly is CEO of Audana. Find out more about him on G+ or Linkedin.

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