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Facebook's psychology experiment raises privacy concerns


Facebook Admits to Conducting Psychology Experiment on Users

If you have a Facebook account, you could have been part of a massive psychological experiment conducted by the social media site.

Facebook says it manipulated the news feeds among nearly 700,000 users, according to Daily Mail, as part of a new study. The goal was to determine how the posts that users see affect their moods and their own posts.

A study by the PNAS Journal says seeing more negative posts caused positive responses, but also caused more negative posts by the users.

According to the study, "These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks."

Many are outraged by the invasion of privacy, and some argue that they should have been informed that they were part of an experiment. Adam Kramer, one of the data scientists on the study posted an apology on his Facebook saying his team was "very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused." Facebook maintains that none of the data was affiliated with a specific account, but many users still feel violated by the study.

Here's how some are reacting on Twitter:

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ricks1951f1 June 30 2014 at 1:19 PM

Another reminder of why I will not join FB.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
eaglephoenix2 June 30 2014 at 1:02 PM

Social engineering tool. Shows how easy people are to control in ccertain areas. Another big but simple thing is we are constantly manipulated by commercials. Commercials are there to work you into buying a product. Most mainstream TV shows, especially the 'edgy' ones, for simplicity's sake, show how 'cool' people react to controversial social issues and situations. And many, many people emulate those responses. From Dr Phil to "Modern Family" its all about social engineering.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
tren555 June 30 2014 at 2:40 PM

I'm fine without facebook. And I never buy what I see on TV.
I paid for dish, so I don't let to manipulate me .
I can live very well without facebook and Kardeshians

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Judith June 30 2014 at 12:46 PM

What really annoys me about FB is that somehow they've made an offer that Huff couldn't refuse. In December 2013 Huff published an article telling us we should drop FB in 2014 for myriad reasons. Then a few months later we were told we needed a FB account to comment on Huff. Now we're told that Huff comments are linked to FB conversations. What's wrong with that picture?

Flag Reply +8 rate up
5 replies
jrexmarda June 30 2014 at 1:07 PM

What they found is pretty much true of any news feed and any comment forum. You don't have to do a psychology experiment to prove that. People would rather appear normal than be considered weird so they post in agreement with the whatever the majority think. Doesn't matter if the majority are shallow, trite, unimaginative boors, as long as everything posted lines up with what everyone says. You get the most positive feedback that way too. It's really sad.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
ewatch23 jrexmarda June 30 2014 at 1:36 PM

Right on.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
mrck922 jrexmarda June 30 2014 at 3:07 PM

You are absolutely right. People would rather blend in than actually do any critical thinking.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
stevenmiller2000 mrck922 June 30 2014 at 3:35 PM

Anybody recognize the irony of the replies to above comment.... ;)

Flag +1 rate up
dvdscrscsn667 June 30 2014 at 12:38 PM

Otherwise know as,Testing how easy it is to contron the brainless masses without them even knowing it. lol

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
pdgrovebaskets June 30 2014 at 3:34 PM

And some people wonder why I won't, not just don't, I WILL NOT have Facebook. So far I have survived just fine in this world without it. Oh sure, it's played a few good roles in lives such as reuniting lost family members, brought social awareness to an individual or a business acting like complete idiots, but often the news can do the same for much of this. I'm not always sure the damage to society, and also this Twitter thing, which I don't do, will show to be worth it. Human beings do NOT need to know every tiny, little, atom tidbit of everyone's life. We now know TOO much about everything and everyone. People are actually getting addicted to social media sites.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
tazgadon pdgrovebaskets June 30 2014 at 5:32 PM

Ok...The More Popular it is...the further I stay away from it.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
lgoennenwe pdgrovebaskets July 01 2014 at 6:21 AM

For the most part i se it , people want to live their own " truman show" remember that movie , sbut,i know a few family and friend that present a fabulous .life on FB so everyone else see a made up reality , I,laugh and I think to myself , how fake.. Personally when I see a post that I dont like i comment and i dont hit the like bottom just like everyone else , that reaction got me many private message telling to respect them and please dont make what they think is a negative comment , i often replay if you want me on your firend list you.must allow me to be free to express my opinion as i want , "you dont want me to do that then erase me from your firend list ," ,

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Welcome Justin June 30 2014 at 1:15 PM

For all of those who are complaining about this Facebook experiment : they did nothing wrong. Facebook is a service they provide to you. They are allowed to conduct that service in any way they see fit. If you do not like it, then do not use Facebook. But if you use Facebook, then you are automatically consenting to anything they are affiliating their service with, including psychological experiments. You have no right to use their services, then complain about what those services entail. If you do not want to be apart of their experiments, then feel free not to use the service they provide. Social media is not a guaranteed right.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
7 replies
thomashollman19 June 30 2014 at 3:36 PM

BUNCH OF WASHWOMAN BASTARDS LEACHING OFF OF A BUNCH OF LOSERS WITH NO GOALS OR DIRECTION IN THIER LIVES EXCEPT THE FOLLOWING OF A BUNCH OF OTHER LOSERS WITHOUT ANY DIRECTION

Flag Reply +3 rate up
hoppinhogz June 30 2014 at 3:12 PM

You know Facebook, by doing this testing with peoples emotions, you could possibly be causing someone to kill themselves or to have a breakdown or to harm someone else. This world is very volitile today and people have a lot of stress and facebook, from what i have seen, lets people release their emotions, even to the point of making up false things on facebook. Its just a matter of time when you will overstep your boundries and you also will lose.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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