Facebook reveals news feed experiment to manipulate emotions
Facebook have published details of a large scale experiment conducted on 689,000 users home feeds. The experiment which was carried out for one week in January 2012 aimed to test users moods and feelings in relation to what content they viewed. Facebook skewed the content on users news feeds, some users were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words and others were shown content which was deemed sadder than average. After the week was over the experiment found that users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. There is something disturbing about the ability to influence people on a subconscious level especially if you acknowledge the implications in regards to politics. Could Facebook influence the outcome of an election by manipulating the types of posts users are shown? Consider the results of this study with the current conflict in the Middle East, Facebook have shown that by manipulating the data on a feed they can influence the future postings of a user which in turn has a knock on effect. Does this mean that Facebook could leverage support for the strongest political or financial power? Adam Kramer of Facebook, who co-authored the report has issued an apology on his personal Facebook page "I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused." The next step might be legislation which restricts Facebook or other social media platforms ability to manipulate data, however it seems like this might be difficult to police and monitor.