Facebook Can Manipulate Your Emotions Says Secret Experiment on 700,000 Users

Study: Facebook can manipulate users emotions from happy to sad through newsfeed
You may not have realized it, but as part of the terms and conditions you agree to when using Facebook, you allow the company to treat you like a rat in experiments they want to conduct. Yes, you read that correctly. Facebook can conduct experiments on you anytime they want, and they have been doing it.

One of those experiments took place in January, 2012. Facebook ran an experiment on 689,003 users of the English version of Facebook where their Facebook newsfeeds were unwittingly manipulated to show certain types of posts. In doing this experiment, Facebook discovered they have the power to influence your emotions in a way that can make you happy or sad, depending on what they decide to show you.

During the week-long experiment, Facebook studied what effect positive posts versus negative posts had on those reading their newsfeed, according to a study recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) journal.

The experiment was designed in such a way as to determine whether or not exposure to a certain type of emotion would lead to a person changing their own posting behaviors. During the experiment, users’ actual posts were not altered, and they could be viewed by others as normal. What Facebook did, however, was change what users saw in their own newsfeed. Since the newsfeed is controlled by a Facebook algorithm, it’s Facebook which decides what actually shows up in it. They took control of the newsfeed to show certain types of posts to certain users to see what effect this had on them.

The study split the groups into two. The first group received a newsfeed full of positive posts, while the other group received a newsfeed full of more negative content. The findings of the experiment indicate that emotion, whether that emotion be positive or negative, seems to be adopted by those who see it. That is, those who were given the newsfeeds with positive content appeared to take on that positiveness, and post less negative information in their own posts. For those who had the negative newsfeeds, they took on that quality as well, and became more negative in what they posted on Facebook.

In other words, Facebook has the power to make you happier or sadder simply by deciding what to show you in your newsfeed. Why is this important? If they know they can manipulate your emotions, it’s reasonable to assume they can, and will, use this manipulation to put you in a better state of mind to purchase goods from their advertisers. By tweaking their algorithm in certain ways, they can predispose users to buy certain products and services by manipulating them into an emotional state, which would then better sell that product or service.

This experimenting shows that although Facebook is a “free service” to use, actually using the service comes with a cost. As the saying goes, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” This latest experiment shows exactly how Facebook plans to sell you, as the product, to their advertisers.

(Photo courtesy of Dimitris Kalogeropoylos)

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11 Responses to Facebook Can Manipulate Your Emotions Says Secret Experiment on 700,000 Users

  1. Alan says:

    lol, what a joke article.

  2. Bill Benson says:

    Be it on their heads if they depressed anyone that week and those people treated anyone in any way unkindly.

    They are godless anyway, but those who do know God know that He is taking toll. They will face the consequences of all the incidental damage they wrought through their manipulation.

  3. Dino says:

    I’m not on Facebook for this reason “privacy and now manipulation” and its just amazing what people write in it! Good educational article, thank you.

  4. karen says:

    This is a surprise?
    Of course it does, as does the news we read, the music we listen to, the weather, the tone of voice of a partner who wakes up grumpy…and politicians’ spin on the world.

    Of course I’d rather read this article than one crafted by a self-serving politician (or his/her handlers) out to win votes.

  5. William Melikoff says:

    I USED FACEBOOK FOR SOME TIME TO MEET SOME FRIENDS. When I started receiving pornography and prostitutes I closed it definitively. Face book should be under governmental control

  6. Skate says:

    I don’t care what the reasoning for their “experiment”. There is proof Facebook tampers with user accounts and invasion of privacy. What they don’t mention is the repercussions of real life events for their “experiments”. Their “experiments” could lead to suicides, anger, rage and possible violence in real life stemming from “watering the seed” for fb’s own pleasure and social research. Their privacy invasion and manipulation can effect outside the web into the person’s real life, effecting many people around them. FB’s tactics is like a drone attacking innocent lives, not knowing what is going on at ground zero. It’s f’ed up and it needs to stop!

  7. Stephen Lamm says:

    First, go Bears. Second, what a dumb, alarmist headline. So companies test different kinds of products on consumers to see how they behave? Wow. What a revelation. The next headline will be “Alarming study shows sky is blue.” FB offers an experience product, and tests to see what different experiences users have as features change. Sounds like marketing. If you don’t like the experience, you don’t need to be a consumer of FB. Radically simple concept.

  8. Shelley Ann says:

    That’s cool, but I’ve never purchased anything through a facebook ad link and I doubt I ever will. Most people have adblock anyway.

  9. Wow, actually I really don’t know about this Facebook experiment. “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”, that’s why we are using Facebook for free.

  10. Hawk says:

    Which is why I will never buy a product featured on my News feed or anywhere else on Facebook.
    They make anywhere from $20 to $30 a month on me already just from my using their site and as far as I am concerned that is plenty.

  11. Skate says:

    Um, I’ve been investigating and researching this topic as well in conjunction with fb tactics. Keep in mind, men are mostly guiltified by watching porn but women who watch porn is not. It takes two to tango (well sometimes one lol) and women is the equal participants in porn. The consumers are not the “bad”, it’s the vast creators. It’s like you thought of some twisted idea, got a group to create it, then presented to the masses. Now people point fingers at the consumer?? No, that is not how it works. The idea was not created by the consumer.

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