The good, the bad and the ugly. Facebook is getting uglier. Last week it was revealed that a mass manipulation occurred by Facebook and we are the lab rats. Nearly 700,000 Facebook users were unknowingly used in an experiment to gauge massive scale emotional contagion. Newsfeeds were manipulated to omit positive or negative posts to see whether or not that would affect the users’ emotional state. The findings found that people’s moods were affected with those exposed to more negative posts, becoming more negative or withdrawn and vice versa for the positive posts. You can read the full report here.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about Facebook credits (a service that was nixed and now may be under development again) and it’s ugly implications. Basically the users would gain savings by broadcasting purchases to their friends. At that time, I realized that Facebook is not the product, WE are. We all understand that we are being sold to advertisers, but now we are unknowingly being used as lab rats. Taking it one notch uglier is the manipulation. If there were some people who were depressed and on the verge of suicide, and subjected to the social experiment to see if negative posts cause an emotional swing down, that could tip one over the edge.