Facebook is finding itself under attack this morning, after news emerged that it had conducted a psychological experiment on just under 690,000 of its users without their permission. In conjunction with two universities, it manipulated the news feeds of individuals to see if it affected their regular posting habits.
The tests took place back in 2012, and adjusted the feeds of 689,000 users, reporting eventually that those that had less negative news stories in their timelines were found to post less negative comments over all. According to the social network, its reasoning for the study was to find out if exposure to more negative stories could lead people to reduce their interaction on the platform or to even leave it altogether.
The study is available to read in full for those that are interested, which found that the the correlation of posts users saw went both ways. An increase in negative stories led to an increase in negative posts, an decrease in negativity, saw positive posts boom.
Facebook has apologised for not being more open about the study, stating that its aims could have been made clearer at an earlier time. Some have criticised the social network, with the BBC quoting a few people that suggested Facebook’s emotional manipulation could have led to people self harming or falling into depression.
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KitGuru Says: What do you guys think of the study? Is this something that Facebook should be allowed to do, or it is indicative of the site gaining too much power?