It seems that Facebook has conducted a secret psychology experiment on us without us even knowing about it! Apparently Facebook altered different users’ news feeds to showcase either positive or negative posts from their Facebook friends. They used this information to then see if the tone of their newsfeeds affected their own posts.
According to the PNAS of the USA:
“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”
Like everything in this world, there is a positive and negative to this. The positive? This experiment demonstrates how much social media affects how we think. Social media has a HUGE impact on people today and it should not be underestimated. The negative? Facebook did an experiment on us and didn’t tell us. According to SimplyPsychology, “Before the study begins the researcher must outline to the participants what the research is about, and then ask their consent to take part.” Although the experiment didn’t cause any real harm to us, I can see how being treated as a lab rat without even knowing can be unsettling to most people. Facebook literally made thousands of people sad on purpose.
Not cool Zuckerberg.
However, Facebook was allowed to do this because as a Facebook user, you agree to the terms and conditions which include, “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” Looks like we should read the fine print more shouldn’t we?
How do you feel? Leave your thoughts!
To read more about the social experiment, click here.