Facebook: experiments in emotion

Facebook manipulated the feeds of almost 700,000 users.

In a study conducted with two US universities, Facebook set out to discover how what appeared in users’ timelines affects what they shared.  To achieve this, Facebook manipulated news feeds to show a disproportionate number of either positive or negative status updates.  The results which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences show that what appears in your news feed can affect your mood.  Users who saw fewer negative stories were less likely to share a negative post – and vice versa.

The ethics of the study are being criticised however.  Although when you sign up to the service you are agreeing to share your data for analysis or research, there is some debate as to whether the manipulation of newsfeeds is covered by this ‘informed consent’.

Sources: The BBC; Mashable; TheNextWeb