This is a striking example of how something seemingly small as what appears on your newsfeed CAN influence your actual BEHAVIOURS AND ACTIONS.
Facebook Ran A Huge Psychological Experiment On Users And Manipulated The Emotions Of More Than 600,000 People
Facebook’s data scientists conducted a massive experiment where it messed with people’s feeds and proved that longer-lasting moods, like happiness or depression, can be transferred across the social network.
The company tweaked the Newsfeed algorithms of 689,003 unwitting Facebook users, so that people were seeing an abnormally low number of either positive or negative posts.
In a recently published study, the scientists say they found that when people saw fewer positive posts on their feeds, they produced fewer positive posts and instead wrote more negative posts. On the flip side, when scientists reduced the number of negative posts on a person’s newsfeed, those individuals became more positive themselves.
"Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness," study authors Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffrey Hancock write. "We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues."
This idea is interesting in and of itself, but the AV Club’s William Hughes also points out that the study highlights something that most users probably don’t think about: By agreeing to the Facebook’s Data Use Policy when you sign up, you’re automatically giving it permission to include you in big psychological experiments like this, without your knowledge.
Awesome. Fascinating. Scary.
What comes to my mind: If Messages influence people’s mood – could this be used on a very small scale, e.g. retargeting?
Another upshot of this is … if you want to become a more positive person, surround yourself with positive people.
That is explains why the city I live in, is the suicide capital of Serbia.
IDK if it’s an urban legend or has some scientific background, but you hear quite often is that you can get a pretty good estimate of a person’s income by making an average of the 10 or so people they hang around with mostly…
I believe this to be true. I’ve systematically had to remove people from my life and meet new people that were more like minded and headed to where I wanted to go. I look back at my friends from HS and think "wow you sure have gone no where"
Even the editor of the Facebook study thought it was creepy that Facebook could manipulate your newsfeed.
I’m all for it.
If you have over a billion users of a platform, it would be an astronomical waste to not use them in scientific experiments of human psychology, social interactions, etc.
What you see in the news feed is already manipulated based on your history, voluntary hiding of posts, feedback, etc.
It’s not like people own their news feed or have some inherent right to having it the way they want it – but many people are pretentious to a fault when it comes to perceived levels of privacy.
People are happy when a cafe worker knows their likely order based on frequent purchases but god forbid if Google suggests something based on search history.