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Facebook under fire over research manipulaing users' emotions

Facebook under fire over research manipulaing users' emotions

India Blooms News Service | 01 Jul 2014, 04:30 am
Washington, June 30 (IBNS): Social networking site 'Facebook' has landed itself in a huge controversy after a study revealed that it secretly manipulated the feelings of 689,003 users to understand "emotional contagion".

"Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others," a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed.

The study was conducted by researchers affiliated with Facebook from Cornell University and the University of California at San Francisco.

It appeared in the June 17 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study involved researchers to manipulate the News Feeds of users to determine whether positive or negative content would affect their emotions and subsequent Facebook updates.

"Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks [Fowler JH, Christakis NA (2008) BMJ 337:a2338], although the results are controversial," the study said.

"In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. 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," the authors of the experiment stated in the study.

The study has prompted massive anger and disbelief among the Facebook users.

Justifying the research, the social network said in a statement available with the media that "none of the data used was associated with a specific person's Facebook account."

"We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible," it added.


Facebook under fire over research manipulaing users' emotions

India Blooms News Service
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