Facebook Controls Emotions

Experimentation occurs when particular factors are manipulated in a way to prove or disprove a hypothesis. The subjects of experimentation vary from substances, to animals, to human beings. Animals may not have control on whether they are experimented on or not but we humans must give written consent to be the subjects of tests.

Were you aware that in the year 2012, Facebook users were subject to illegal experimentation? Users were manipulated to feel emotions that were not their own. This was done without their consent. They had no knowledge whatsoever that the experiment was happening.

It was claimed that Facebook may have breached ethical and legal guidelines by not informing its users they were being manipulated in the experiment, which was carried out in 2012.” The Guardian

How did Facebook manage to control its user’s emotions? The newsfeeds of 689 000 users were altered to filter certain things in or out of the feed (video’s, images, status’, etc). Depending on the type of “news” they would read/watch on the newsfeed (positive or negative content), their emotions would change.

Is this unethical? No harm was caused to the users but I believe harm was brought to Facebook as well as any other social networks. The trust users have had for these types of websites will have faded.


2 thoughts on “Facebook Controls Emotions

  1. Very interesting. In this course we have discussed how social media is a great tool for engaging audiences/members. The fact the engagement can be increased by algorithmic tools as much as by content is startling. Users know that not everything they read or see in social media is true, but what is the extent of emotional contagion manipulation?

  2. Boo erns Facebook. Unethical, I think so. I had no idea about this! Although psychology and studying human behaviour is fascinating… I’d like to know when I’m the actual subject of study. I’m sure that information is priceless to Facebook and its advertising algorithms. It is concerning how they could manipulate an entire nation into a slightly altered mood (or at least get us all to spend more/or less time online at will).

    Where’s the opt out of that button?!? – sign me up

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