Mood experiment helps Facebook innovate a new way to creep-out users

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Zuck pegs our creep-out meters.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) exceeding expectations once again -- has managed the impossible -- discovering how to creep-out: clowns, possessed toys, and that person you know that never blinks -- all at the same time. How? The social media company recently allowed a team of psychology researchers to validate a theory that happy and sad emotions can spread like a contagion on social networks.

Evidently, anger does too: Facebook's stance is that it was helping to advance science -- no harm, no foul. But this does little to quell concern among many users, especially upon learning a group of 700,000 "volunteers" participated in the study without knowing they did so.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers have had enough social media to last a lifetime.

Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.

 

Ms. Smith teaches germ theory:

If you are exposed to negative person, then that negativity might bleed over to infect you. If you are exposed to a positive person, then those positive emotions might put you in a more positive frame of mind. Since you [have experienced this] in real life...you probably don't need research to back that up. Facebook's data scientists were out to prove if emotions expressed digitally would also be contagious.  MORE

 

So, Richard Chirgwin suppresses his emotions:

In 2012, researchers, led by [Facebook] scientist Adam Kramer, manipulated which posts from their friends the sample of nearly 700,000 users could see in their "News feed", suppressing either positive or negative posts, to see whether either cheerful or downer posts seemed to be emotionally contagious.

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With only a user's "agree click" on Facebook's terms and conditions document to provide...consent to the creepy experiment, researchers from Cornell University, the University of California San Francisco manipulated users' news feeds.MORE

 

And Mark Wilson disses and dishes social media advice:

Sure, when you sign up for an account, you're agreeing to the terms of service - which, in essence, permits Facebook to do whatever the h*** it wants with anything you (are stupid enough to) share online. The site is constantly putting itself forward as the people's champion, but it's really self- serving.  MORE

 

Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffrey T. Hancock pvove that people can be manipulated:

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.  MORE

 

We find Pranav Dixit troubled over mind-games:

Facebook played a psychological mind game with its users and it used a tiny clause in its 9,000-word Terms of Service to justify its actions.

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What's troubling is that Facebook doesn't think that this is a big deal.  MORE

 

Adrienne LaFrance is creeped out, but isn't sure why:

[There's] something new-level creepy about a recent study that shows Facebook manipulated what users saw...as a way to study how it would affect their moods.

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But why? Psychologists do all kinds of mood research and behavior studies. What made this study, which quickly stirred outrage, feel so wrong?  MORE

 

Yet Tal Yarkoni finds a silver-lining :

I don't find myself defending Facebook very often. ... [News that] Facebook has been actively manipulating its users' emotions has, apparently, enraged a lot of people.

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Before getting into the sources of that rage -- and why I think it's misplaced–though, it's worth describing the study and its results.  MORE

 

Meanwhile, Christian Sandvig wants a new bumper sticker:

Best quote about #FacebookExperiment: "Have a crappy day for science." // A future bumper sticker? I hope?  MORE

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