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In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the beats-the-top-stories-option-at-least dept.

Social Networks 130

The Atlantic reports that two years ago, Facebook briefly conducted an experiment on a subset of its users, altering the mix of content shown to them to emphasize content sorted by tone, negative or positive, and observe the results. From the Atlantic article: For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it. At least they showed their work.

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consent (5, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | about 3 months ago | (#47344095)

There are laws governing obtaining informed consent from humans before performing psychological experiments on them. I doubt that a EULA can override them. This should be interesting...

Re:consent (5, Insightful)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about 3 months ago | (#47344143)

[citation needed]. Almost every major website does A/B_testing [wikipedia.org] . Is there a law againt this? (That's not a rethorical question. I actually would like to know.)

Re:consent (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344337)

I don't think this is about whether Facebook had a legal right to do this, but more on that in a minute. It's more about whether it was ethical on their part. Regardless, I think it clearly was not ethical for the researchers to do this study without getting the approval of the users who took part in the study.

Getting back to the legal issue, every site or app has a Terms of Services agreement. Does FB's TOS say that you might be randomly placed in a A/B test used for academic research purposes? If they don't, it seems to me that could be a legal issue.

Re:consent (2, Interesting)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 3 months ago | (#47344357)

But surely users are allowed to be put in an A/B test used for *commercial/advertisement* purposes, right? Is doing something for academic purposes somehow worse than for business purposes? Personally, I would rather my online behavior be used for a purpose which nominally increases our knowledge than for a purpose which increases someone's bottom line.

That said, I do find this whole thing to be a little shady...but I'm not sure it's a particularly rational reaction, given that I rarely care about A/B testing when it's being used to shamelessly make money off of me...

Re:consent (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47344483)

If they don't, it seems to me that could be a legal issue.

I doubt it. First, there is no "law" requiring informed consent for such an innocuous study, just ethical guidelines. Second, there is no law saying that entities can only do things positively asserted in the TOS. Companies do behavior research all the time. Grocery stores experiment with different product placement, different background music, different lighting. They are not expected to get consent for that. This is no different. I am feeling a distinct lack of outrage about this.

Re:consent (5, Interesting)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 3 months ago | (#47344697)

There are laws against assault, bullying, and so on. The positive spin in innocuous but the negative spin is not.

With 700 000 potential victims, the numbers are against them because when your sample size is that large outliers are the rule and not the exception.

The risk of copycat suicide for example should have been obvious to those conducting this study.

Re:consent (0)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 3 months ago | (#47345729)

And anyone who wants to blame someone's suicide on the content of that person's facebook feed... is the type of person who blames a death on a gun, instead of the real cause.

Re:consent (2, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 3 months ago | (#47346129)

A psychological experiment cannot be called innocuous before the results are in. Who knows, maybe a extremely depressed person is 20 times more likely to commit suicide if they see that the world is 100% perfectly happy and positive.

Re:consent (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 3 months ago | (#47345375)

Does FB's TOS say that you might be randomly placed in a A/B test used for academic research purposes? .

Actually, it does.

Re:consent (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344497)

The researchers were trying to incite negative emotions in the subjects. That's unethical if the people don't consent. You're playing with people's lives beyond Facebook. Follow ET's rule: Beeee Gooood.

Re:consent (3, Informative)

Jmstuckman (561420) | about 3 months ago | (#47344649)

From a legal standpoint, for an activity to be considered "research", it must be "designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge". http://www.virginia.edu/vpr/ir... [virginia.edu]

When a website uses A/B testing to improve its own internal operations, it's seeking to privately develop limited knowledge on its own operations, rather than general knowledge. This puts it outside the scope of US federal regulations on research, which have been narrowly crafted to avoid regulating commercial activities like these.

Given these criteria, Facebook was surely engaged in research.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346989)

But any scientist that took the data and used it in a research publication would most likely find themselves in a very risky position. We are not supposed to use information obtained in unethical ways.

Re:consent (4, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | about 3 months ago | (#47346323)

Yes there is laws against this. Anyone who lives in Canada, and is a part of the experiment but did not receive informed consent may contact Health Canada/federal crown about it. It's illegal here. [hc-sc.gc.ca]

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47347235)

What you linked describes how to create a consent document. It doesn't say how to decide whether you need one in the first place, which would be the more relevant question here.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346759)

Well if there is, electioneering and advertising are illegal too. Facebook would make an excellent election-rigging tool.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47347357)

45 CFR 46 http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.html [hhs.gov] In addition, California (presumably they have jurisdiction) has probably the tightest informed consent laws on the books. Facebook is in some deep shit unless they pay off the right feds.

Re:consent (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344157)

Cite vague "law" that may or may not exist. Assume it applies to this case when it is clear that marketers freely do and have done this for decades or even centuries. Get modded up.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346231)

Marketers are not attempting to publish academic research.

Re:consent (2)

phrostie (121428) | about 3 months ago | (#47344167)

Just think of it as the new Facebook beta.

That's pretty damn vague, son. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344169)

What exactly is considered a "psychological experiment"? Your definition seems very vague, and implies that any sort of software usability testing or change that involves offering different experiences to different users should be outlawed or very strictly controlled.

Take Mozilla Firefox as a recent example. Firefox 28 had a shitty, but at least partially usable user interface. Then Mozilla released Firefox 29, which brought in the Australis user interface, which is indisputably a pretty much unusable pile of feces. The psychological impacts of these changes are profound. Users who use Firefox 28 tend to be agitated due to its bad UI. But users who use Firefox 29 or later are often foaming at the mouth with outright anger over the horrible experience they're being subjected to.

Under your definition, it would be "wrong" to compare the user experience of those using Firefox 28 versus those using Firefox 29 or later without having them sign a bunch of paperwork.

Re:That's pretty damn vague, son. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344243)

Well, I dunno, but I think being published in PNAS probably points towards it being considered a psychological experiment and not software usability testing.

Re:That's pretty damn vague, son. (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 months ago | (#47344259)

Most of this 'free' software has a "do you accept the terms and conditions" clause that you have to click "I agree" in order to install or run the software.
Now the enforcability of such agreements may be open to dispute, especcially if it entailled some sacrifice on the users part (you agree to give up your firstborn child to us..) but it usually would cover "we can change the user interface at any time, and don't complain if memory leaks cause your system to crash eventually)

Filter bubble (4, Interesting)

drolli (522659) | about 3 months ago | (#47344179)

What actually disturbs me more is: why should they do this? The answer is simple: They want to determine the most effective non-obvious way of creating filter bubbles to make the user feel well and stay longer.

It is so-to say a "second order filter bubble", i.e. the use of a positive feedback mechanism.

Re:Filter bubble (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47346207)

They want to determine the most effective non-obvious way of creating filter bubbles to make the user feel well and stay longer.

Well, they want the user to stay longer. But making them feel well wouldn't actually do that. Depressed people use the internet more. If it makes you depressed, then bingo! Ad revenue!

Re:Filter bubble (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 3 months ago | (#47346627)

Rather than whine about being a guinea pig you could just not play their game. Every hour spent on Facebook is an hour of your life lost to more productive or enriching pursuits.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344203)

Facebook is fucking with its users again? Could they? Zeckerberg is probably used to million dollar lawsuits by now.

It's called the Common Rule (5, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | about 3 months ago | (#47344225)

It's called the Common Rule [hhs.gov] , although it generally only applies to federally funded research. There is some evidence [cornell.edu] that this study was in part federally funded. I think there are serious questions about whether a click-through agreement meets the standards of informed consent.

Although the study was approved by an institutional review board, I'm surprised, and the comment from the Princeton editor makes me wonder how well they understood the research design (or how clearly it was explained to them). This would never have gotten past my IRB.

It's called the Common Rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47345215)

IRBs are notoriously idiosyncratic from institution to institution.

Ours, I suspect, would have shot this one down over privacy issues-- I've had to jump through insane hoops for small scale (10-20 subjects) on studies of user interfaces. There is basically no way I would believe a commercial organization could keep 700,000 records private and anonymized. Certainly not Facebook which barely even believes in privacy in the first place.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344279)

From the original article:
"...it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research."

Read the terms and conditions, people.

Re:consent (2)

Entrope (68843) | about 3 months ago | (#47344375)

What specifically does the Data Use Policy say about this? The bit I saw quoted was that users agreed to Facebook's "internal operations", with research being an example of those. Peer-reviewed publication in a journal is clearly not an internal operation.

Re:consent (1)

Kalriath (849904) | about 3 months ago | (#47347249)

That's not informed consent as it would be deemed by any research institution or court of law. Informed consent requires a discussion with the subject on the nature of the research, its purpose, the manner in which data will be collected and used, and an explicit agreement from the user. What Facebook thinks it has is implied consent - which they frankly don't have either.

This study is just plain unlawful.

Re:consent (1, Interesting)

Smallpond (221300) | about 3 months ago | (#47344351)

There are laws governing obtaining informed consent from humans before performing psychological experiments on them. I doubt that a EULA can override them. This should be interesting...

There is no such law. In any case, this is the the basis for the entire news business. Why do they report murders but not acts of charity (unless a celebrity is involved)? It is all about getting you to watch and see ads. Facebook is doing nothing that TV news hasn't been doing for years.

Re:consent (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about 3 months ago | (#47344959)

There is no such law. In any case, this is the the basis for the entire news business.

While it may not be an actual law, there are strict rules [hhs.gov] about this for any study, like this one, that receives US federal funding.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47347381)

I'm afraid you're wrong.

45 CFR 46 covers this nicely. In addition, California has an even tighter informed consent law on the books. Would you like me to Google that for you too?

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344425)

Informed consent aside, and the legality of all of this, when I originally signed up to Facebook, this was something that I thought might occur. How do I truly know the information I'm seeing, is exactly what was intended to be posted by the individual. Simple fact is, I don't. I'd have to verify with other users, and so on which becomes a rabbit hole of confirmation for what, a few lines of text? And then it would grow exponentially from there with regard to trust in each and every post. Ultimately, this sows seeds of doubt about the entire platform, and whatever trust was initially given, is gone.

I don't see much backlash to this on the user front, but it will be interesting to see where media, and possibly legalese, take this.

Re:consent (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 3 months ago | (#47344471)

There are laws governing obtaining informed consent from humans before performing psychological experiments on them.

That only applies to federally funded research (which means almost all colleges and universities). Attempting to apply this to the private sector would raise serious First Amendment questions. What one person calls "psychological experiments", another might call "protected free speech".

Re:consent (1)

sribe (304414) | about 3 months ago | (#47344583)

That only applies to federally funded research (which means almost all colleges and universities). Attempting to apply this to the private sector would raise serious First Amendment questions. What one person calls "psychological experiments", another might call "protected free speech".

This study appears to have taken federal funds...

Re:consent (2)

Holammer (1217422) | about 3 months ago | (#47344477)

Ethics board must be a bunch of chimps. It's not Little Albert, but then again, it's on such a massive scale with 700k users. What if someone committed suicide because this manipulation?

Re:consent (1, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#47344527)

"There are laws governing obtaining informed consent from humans before performing psychological experiments on them. I doubt that a EULA can override them. This should be interesting..."

They can do whatever they want, it's their site. They decide what to show you, if they show you something and when.
And they have the right to sell that information about you at any price they choose.
It's their business.
You are the product, the psychologists are the customer.

Re:consent (3, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about 3 months ago | (#47344597)

They can do whatever they want, it's their site.

Did you think about that before you wrote it? If not, take a second and think about it.

There are many, many, many things they cannot do with their site.

Re:consent (0)

Nkwe (604125) | about 3 months ago | (#47345025)

They can do whatever they want, it's their site.

Did you think about that before you wrote it? If not, take a second and think about it.

There are many, many, many things they cannot do with their site.

Within technical limitations, they can do anything they want with their site. However, some things they could do may have legal or financial consequences.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344761)

The entire field of experimental Social Psychology would not exist if this were true in the sense you're describing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_psychology#Ethics

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344811)

Given their statement that (prior to this experiment) "emotional contagion is well established", they had every expectation that increased negative contagion would have a negative outcome. They therefore expected half their sample to be exposed to an adverse effect.

I can only assume that ethical approval for the experiment was neither sought nor obtained.

My own institution (a university) would not permit an experiment in which an adverse exposure and the likelihood of an adverse outcome was expected.

Re:consent (2)

dbc (135354) | about 3 months ago | (#47344913)

That's the first thing that popped into my mind. After having spent many hours over the past week helping my daughter do paperwork so that she could submit her extremely benign science fair project to the county science fair's institutional review board, I'm wondering how FB can get way with this? I guess that they can get away with it because no one will call them out on it, unless some victims file a lawsuit.

That's the modern world -- a 15 year old kid doing something demonstrably harmless has to do hours of paperwork to demonstrate a device to a dozen people, but a multi-national corporation can psychologically manipulate thousands of people with the intention to see if they can alter their mood with no oversight.

Re:consent (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 3 months ago | (#47345033)

It's also not just a legal matter. Performing experiments on humans without their consent is immoral.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47345059)

There are laws governing obtaining informed consent from humans before performing psychological experiments on them.

Only if you receive federal funding, which facebook probably does not.

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346419)

the very first thing I thought was, "holy shit, did Facebook just do a mind control experiment on it's users without informed consent?"

this is highly illegal because to perform such a study on a person the law requires full voluntary consent.

I would sue Facebook and the researchers for thinking Facebook was their own personal playground for which they could do anything they wanted on. Including run psychological experiments and tests to see how information effected people, WHO WERE TOTALLY UNWITTING to what was being done to them.

This is the same type of shit CIA does; MKULTRA is one of their biggest mind control programs from the 70s, which actually continues on today under new budgets .. read about that here: http://www.oregonstatehospital.net/d/story.html#cia [oregonstatehospital.net]

I think we should be on the lookout now for Facebook planting subliminal messages, or altering the frequency and pattern of images and colors on their website to manipulate us all into either buying something, spending more time where they want, etc. It's actually possible they could seed ideas that travel outside of Facebook making it the killer mind control platform of it's time.

Even just a picture of something is enough to manipulate the public, and shift a large part of the economy or culture, changing history forever.. and as far as I know the United States government regulates and bans this type of manipulation (they did experiments back in the 1957s on theater goers, finding flashing 1 frame of coke and pop corn related text instructing people to "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungry? Eat popcorn!" during a film would increase sales of these items by 60%, forcing people to buy shit they didn't normally think they wanted, removing from them conscious choice. I believe the practice was then banned by the United States but it still goes on, and even direct imagery is equivalent to manipulation of what types of thoughts and images will be most prominent in a persons mind, because anything a person sees or hears or thinks basically takes dominate control at the speed of light (operating mechanisms of the brain, and you can't firewall stimuli out so you're forced to take it in ..).

http://www.obamasweapon.com/ [obamasweapon.com]

Re:consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346877)

FU, you signed up for facebook. Deal with it.

Why I don't have a Facebook account (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47344097)

This sort of thing is exactly why I have never signed up for an account. The lack of a moral compass at this company is profound.

Why I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344127)

Facebook is profoundly useful though, as a messaging service that everyone uses and to keep abreast of things happening in friends' lives in a central, easy-to-access location. It's also quite useful when applying for jobs, because nothing says "social outcast" like not having a Facebook account.

Re: Why I don't have a Facebook account (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344303)

Your positive comment about Facebook may have been due to psychological coercion. So, how may we take it as a true sentiment from you?

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344541)

Blogs, RSS feeds, and RSS feed agregators run locally on your own devices (or centrally such as Google Reader) and are profoundly useful to keep abreast of things happening in friends' lives. That was why I never signed up for Facebook in the beginning, and the more I learned about Facebook in later years (InQtel connection, etc.) the more I was glad that I never signed up and the more resistant I became to it.

I've chatted with people about the social outcast argument and they say that might be true for people under 30, but it's totally acceptable for people over 30 to not be on Facebook. Also, younger people such as an 18 year old first year university student that I know are deleting their Facebook accounts because Facebook is getting "too creepy".

Facebook isn't the only technology for staying in touch with people. As I mentioned before there are blogs, photo galleries, instant messaging, IRC, voice/video conferencing, email, forums, mailing lists, newsgroups, website such as slashdot, etc. all of which have existed before and still exist today. These technologies are just as popular as they ever were, IMO. The difference with these technologies is that they are decentralized. You can choose which email server, IM server, web server, etc. you use, either from a provider or self hosted. Commercial or FLOSS.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (1)

hodet (620484) | about 3 months ago | (#47345013)

"It's also quite useful when applying for jobs, because nothing says "social outcast" like not having a Facebook account."

...and you know this how A.C.? Because it sounds like total BS to me.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47345223)

because nothing says "social outcast" like not having a Facebook account.

Once upon a time, nothing said "social outcast" like not having a mullet.

It's just a fashion, baby. Don't take it too seriously.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344135)

I also purposely choose not to have a Facebook account and remain anonymous on Slashdot.

FB is just messing around with your heads, but it's no different than the selective filter the mainstream media uses.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 3 months ago | (#47345739)

Not being in touch with what your friends are saying makes you more likely to be manipulated by mainstream media for lack of having as sizeable/technically-augmented of an alternative.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346153)

You really need facebook for that? How good a friend could they really be if you need facebook to stay in touch?

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (1)

AtariKee (455870) | about 3 months ago | (#47347251)

Not being in touch with what your friends are saying makes you more likely to be manipulated by mainstream media for lack of having as sizeable/technically-augmented of an alternative.

... that is, unless you ignore both...

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (4, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 3 months ago | (#47344325)

it seems its pretty much the same for every other large US company too.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344629)

Yet you are on Slashdot still?
Hilarity.

Re:Why I don't have a Facebook account (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about 3 months ago | (#47345943)

It's been easy to think of people who got involved in Facebook as lemmings, apparently guinea pig was the more apt mammal to choose.

Ethical Responsibility (5, Insightful)

forand (530402) | about 3 months ago | (#47344103)

This is quite interesting research that should never have been done. I am rather surprised that the National Academy published the results of a study which violated multiple ethical guidelines put in place to protect human subjects. Did Facebook track the number of suicides in the 700,000 sample? Was the rate of those given a sadder than average stream have a higher or lower rate? Do the Facebook researchers address the ethical questions posed by performing such an experiment at all?

Re:Ethical Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344131)

I was thinking the same thing; this is a shady psych study that pushes the ethical envelope

Re:Ethical Responsibility (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47344159)

Regardless of whether you're right or wrong, you're already too late [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Ethical Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344165)

Not to mention those are some pretty shitty sources; honestly sourcing people from the 90s and 50s. Well done.

Re:Ethical Responsibility (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 months ago | (#47344327)

to protect human subjects

Oh do stop being so precious. It's no different from an individual posting a sad or depressed piece, themselves. Should they then be sued, arrested or punished for the "emotional damage" they cause to anyone who reads it?

Re:Ethical Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344647)

The difference is intent.

If I post something "sad or depressed" because that's how I feel about something, that's one thing, but experimenting on people is something completely different.

Facebook deliberately did it, to see the effects. Manipulating people is never ethically right.

If I deliberately posted things to deliberately manipulate people into killing themselves, you'd have a hard time proving intent, but facebook have openly stated they were manipulating people.

tl;dr: Kill yourself, petes_PoV.

Re:Ethical Responsibility (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 months ago | (#47345017)

Facebook deliberately did it, to see the effects. Manipulating people is never ethically right.

And yet there are individuals who do exactly the same thing every day. I would suggest that there are also organisations that make a positive decision to post content to change the emotions of their readers: whether to make them happy (and possibly tie that happy feeling to the website's message - religious, political, cultural), or angry or apathetic.

Just like every advertisement we see is designed to manipulate our emotions, websites do it all the time for gain, so to have FB do the same is neither new nor unacceptable. It could even be argued that since they had nothing to gain (materially or financially) that their motivations were more benign that those sites or advertisements that manipulate our emotions for their own gain.

Re:Ethical Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346157)

You are not trying to publish peer-reviewed research. Research has very strict ethical guidelines delineating ethical research. This didn't meet those criteria.

National Academy is for junk science (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 3 months ago | (#47345527)

I am rather surprised that the National Academy published the results of a study which violated multiple ethical guidelines put in place to protect human subjects.

The only real point of being accepted to the National Academy is access to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They don't turn down anything from members.

For NA members, it's where you publish when nobody else will accept your paper.

Re:Ethical Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47347255)

In a sample of 700,000 people, assuming they're in the USA, you should generally expect less than 2 suicides a week. If the actual numbers are high enough to draw any statistically meaningful inference at all, then that's pretty scary.

FOX News (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344107)

FOX News has been doing this for years. Outrage against (minorities/sexual deviants/immigrants/liberals) that is strangely contagious.

Re:FOX News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344177)

The mainstream media has been doing this for years.

Re:FOX News (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 3 months ago | (#47344407)

Your bias is showing, have you turned on MSNBC lately? or CNN, or looked at thinkprogress or drudge report??

both sides do it

Facebook encourages posing. (4, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | about 3 months ago | (#47344129)

I see it in my self, on the rare occasions that I actually post, which is roughly 5-10 times a year and I see it with others whenever I go online to browse a little in the posts of the people I'm connected with ... called "Friends" (Fingerquotes!) on FB:

Facebook and other "social networks" encourage posing. No two ways about it.

If you get all worked up and batter your self esteem just because somebody posted himself in cool poses or on some event that you "missed out" on ... I get this a lot, since I'm only on FB for my tango dancing connections, a pastime where posing sometimes actually is part of the game. Actually knowing the person behind a neat facade on FB does put things into perspective.

Bottom line:
People shouldn't get more attached to these things than it is good for them. If this neat little stund by FB shows them that, then all the better.

My 2 cents.

FAKEbook indeed (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 3 months ago | (#47345419)

this is junk science...not informed consent (buried in a EULA is not informed consent)

first and foremost, TFA description is wrong....TFA and the link research did NOT list what words make a post "positive" and "negative"

we cannot check their work by examining what factors they chose to represent the experimental variables

2nd, you're absolutely right that what people post to facebook.com is often not an accurate reflection of their current mood or actions

my only caveat is that some facebook users really don't care and genuinely post....but still, we all have a selection bias to posting something that others will see

3rd we cannot correleate the act of reading "bad" posts with posting "bad" posts by external observation only...you have to ask the person posting if **they think** what they are posting is "bad"

these researchers are idiots...really...

As old Stanley Milgram would have said... (5, Funny)

angularbanjo (1521611) | about 3 months ago | (#47344171)

... that's pretty shocking.

So, how's the rage experiment going? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344181)

Or Beta, as it is called around these parts of the internet.

Outrage MadLibs (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47344185)

In ___a year___, ___a company___ Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions Welcome to the dark, twisted, conspiracy-laden world of marketing.

Basic psychological manipulation (empathy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344293)

Think about it: You're a human being. You FEEL for others. Emotion IS contagious... good, & bad.

You see this in music: I read a story once about a missionary in Africa in the 1950's. His kids brought "Elvis" records there. The medicine man came to them & said "Why are you *trying* to 'summon the demons'?"... makes sense along with THIS topic, if you think about it - same deal!

In fact, I've found (50 yrs. of age now) that music 'reflects the mood of the times'... the 1950's-1960's era were "good times" in the USA - the tunes reflected it: About falling in love, having good times when you're young, etc.

The 1970's changed, so did the music - it got harder, more dark. Now, look @ the tunes today kids listen to (not good - women are 'ho's', shoot the police, etc. - et al)... you can influence ENTIRE SOCIETIES with the written word, or tunes, easily.

TV is yet another avenue of doing so.

APK

P.S.=> Think about what I just said - you'll "get the picture", pretty fast - & what do "conquerors" do, nearly from the get-go? Seize control of the presses, communications, & ALL FORMS OF MEDIA (this is part of the reason why - to control "the cattle/sheep" + for information, which IS truly, power)... apk

Re:Basic psychological manipulation (empathy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344331)

Yes blame the damn music. Those negros and their jazz music is going to lead the nation to hell, hypnotize your white women and probably give you a venereal disease!

There's great "black music" too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344379)

I'm listening to one RIGHT NOW to "influence my mood" in fact -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com] ("& darling, you'll always be, the ONLY 1, for me..." - love that line!). I loved "MOTOWN", & still do (proof's right there).

You can also look @ what the "tribal medicine chief" told the missionary in my original post - even "primitive people" (who're NOT so primitive they don't understand the concept here in fact, which his statement exemplifies) know that.

Psychology, imo, is the MOST dangerous & least understood of the 'sciences' (human mind is more complex and larger than this entire planet, heck, solar system is... we're still infants searching & learning there - statistics & shrinks, notwithstanding).

You're largely a product of your surrounding environment, along with hereditary characteristics (cloth your cut from) - it's a case of "nature vs. nurture" there... however, I am a STRONG PROPONENT of the statement "everything begins @ home" - & there's material supporting that (ala your entire bias structure is formed the 1st years of your LIFE, for your ENTIRE LIFE, unless you can (by will & intellect) override it - not easy: Your parents & their guidance (or lack thereof) are the ones influencing it...).

Anyhow/anyways: I don't believe it is "blacks" doing that - it's the folks controlling the presses, media, etc. (& they can 'control it' to any DIRECTION for lack of a better expression, they like... for their purposes, whatever they are).

I wish they'd use their "thinktanks" & UNDERSTAND they have the power here, literally, to do so albeit in a "GOOD" way (relative term there, & not good if sociopaths that lack empathy are @ the wheel/helm - unfortunately, "leaders" often are such types - it comes with the territory - strong self-belief, "the ends justify the means" etc. ... sometimes though, & I put this on the leadership (after all - with great power comes great responsibilty) to change it... it IS, their job, the one they stomped on ANYONE IN THEIR WAY to get... so, do a GOOD job, for the good of all, not just yourselves & your cronies).

APK

P.S.=> That's all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump)... apk

Addendum (Einsenhower MIC)... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344905)

"I wish they'd use their "thinktanks" & UNDERSTAND they have the power here, literally, to do so albeit in a "GOOD" way (relative term there, & not good if sociopaths that lack empathy are @ the wheel/helm - unfortunately, "leaders" often are such types - it comes with the territory - strong self-belief, "the ends justify the means" etc. ... sometimes though, & I put this on the leadership (after all - with great power comes great responsibilty) to change it... it IS, their job, the one they stomped on ANYONE IN THEIR WAY to get... so, do a GOOD job, for the good of all, not just yourselves & your cronies)." - by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:12AM (#47344379)

Why is the music so violent & negative? To create a "war-like" population imo per my subject-line above - that IS who is behind it, imo & experience (worked for them in my career @ times, saw it from the inside, & did reprehensible things for them NOW that I think about it).

I see it, everyday, where I live (it's gotten SO bad now, it's unreal - outta control in fact). My brother, back in 1995 when I was travelling for work, city to major city, told me "It's gotten bad, the place makes you MEAN" & yes, it does. I think this is INTENTIONALLY socially engineered in fact... why? Ok:

I saw that, since 1 night @ a tavern down the hill, the MORONS inside knocked an officer down (his partner got on the horn "officer down" & a 100 of them were there in a FLASH guns drawn... stupid to "push" around a giant that can stomp you - you work INSIDE the system, WITH THE RULES, to effect change (M.L. King had it right, otherwise, you die (they did him too imo - he was a threat, educated people always are)).

It's 'backfiring' along with "Tamany Hall" type ghettos being created... unrest, dissatisfaction, abounds. Bring back the jobs your offshored - happy people tend NOT to act like criminals if their kids are fed with shoes on their feet... not worth risking.

ON the other hand? You create RICH & POOR ONLY? You get what you get, now...

It's unfortunate. I truly believe what I just put out (adding to what I said before)... only thing is, they've forgotten how POWERFUL "the righteous man" is. You breed THAT sentiment on that part of "the cattle/sheep", in a GOOD way?? You get the MOST powerful warrior there is - unstoppable, with truth (& yes, God whom I believe in strongly there is, look around you, tell me different (& I've torn up the atheists on that many times too)).

They've got it wrong in their latest "social experiment" is all... &, that's ok: The WORM IS TURNING!

How so?

Look @ Mr. Bill Gates ("King Billy" whom I call that out of total respect, not mockery) only giving his kids 2 million each, the rest is going into things/foundations that will HOPEFULLY, change the world (for the better). He KNOWS his billions sit in banks (scumbags, follow the money, & results back me in bailouts + Rothchild himself stating "I care not who makes the laws in a nation IF I control its money supply...", says it all on that account for me, & he did the saying of it (the father of the "Federal Reserve Bank", & nothing federal about it - the POWER of words, or rather the illusions created by the power of them there)).

There's also the heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharma empire "changing" towards "the absolute good" too - he's ONE SMART KID, realizing that hoarding monies, he alone cannot spend a FRACTION of what the masses can, to keep the economic motor, turning & IN BALANCE (money HAS to move around, or an economy, dies... you get capital underutilization is why).

Anyhow... there ya go!

APK

P.S.=> "Onwards, & UPWARDS"... apk

Re: Addendum (Einsenhower MIC)... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47345593)

Lmao

That's no valid response to my post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47345713)

Don't you have anything better to offer in reply? Guess not. You're an undereducated troll who appears to be struck speechless by that post and its points.

Nothing more.

Don't like that? Then by all means, feel FREE to offer something better that *may* educate me better + further!

Trust me: I'll listen.

See - I don't *claim* to have "all the answers" & I do tend to "oversimplify things" (since I don't the "absolute best information" possible - who does? It's part of WHY I posted what I did - for correction or perhaps a more enlightened point-of-view...).

Go for it - I'll listen & consider your points, rather than your stupid bullshit "lmao" (which spelled 'sideways' makes YOU, a lamo, and a troll... lol!).

APK

P.S.=> IF anyone doesn't *LIKE* what I wrote, based on a life experience of a 1/2 century's worth of observation? Feel free, to correct me... thanks too!

... apk

For every action .... (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 months ago | (#47344319)

So basically all they've done is tell us that people respond to their surroundings. Okay, nothing new there. What would be interesting is if FB could somehow start quantifying the level of the reaction. Then, after a few hundred years of study we might start to get the glimmerings of a science.

You feel happy ... very happy ... buy our stock (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 3 months ago | (#47344323)

... our stock is very happy ... buy our stock ... you like using Facebook ... you are happy when you use FaceBook ... buy our stock ...

facebook censors (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 3 months ago | (#47344381)

I have had my own posts removed from my newsfeed. That should be the bigger issue - I really doubt I've been singled out. (looks out window for black heli..._)

Re:facebook censors (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47346217)

Back when I used fb what I liked most was how you'd have a page with something actually important that loaded in a snap and fb would "fail" to thumbnail it with a nondescriptive error, but if you loaded some page full of bloatshit about something stupid it would thumbnail quickly and show right up so that you could share the stupidity to your heart's content, even if it was old now-non-news.

FB has always shown people only a subset of your posts, even if they explicitly ask to see all of them. That's a big part of why I stopped using it. Why waste your time if even the people who actually want to read what you're writing won't see it? Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, they're staggeringly incompetent and their site doesn't work.

Re:facebook censors (1)

Kalriath (849904) | about 3 months ago | (#47347275)

They eventually revealed the reason they only show your content to a subset of your followers:

So they could charge you to reach more of them. Seriously. You can pay to "promote" your posts, and all that does is increase the reach within the people that have explicitly indicated interest in your content.

Did they have informed consent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47344387)

Usually in order to run a psychological experiment on someone, the experimenter is required to obtain informed consent.

What if they had "tweaked" someone's content to see negativity all week and then they went out and committed suicide? Are they even sure that didn't happen?

The father of propaganda would be proud (3, Interesting)

nickmalthus (972450) | about 3 months ago | (#47344655)

Secret psychological tests on population in a mass? Edward Bernays [wikipedia.org] would have been elated to have this capability in his time.

In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

Future Facebook experiments! (5, Interesting)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 3 months ago | (#47344809)

Hey, Facebook! Can you help me with some experiments of my own? I'd like to see the outcome if...

1. Right before an election, all posts favoring candidate X or the political views of party X were promoted to the top of everyone's feed and given 20 extra fake "Likes", while posts favoring the opposition are demoted and de-liked.

2. Phrases in posts favoring candidate X or the political views of party X are subtly "edited" when the appear in everyone else's news feed to be more positive (e.g., "like" to "love", "good" to "great"), while phrases in posts favoring the opposition are given the reverse treatment and sprinkled with misspellings.

3. FB users with a tendency of opposition to party X have random fake posts/comments from them appear in other's feeds only, in which they insult their friends' baby pictures, make tasteless jokes, and vaguely threaten supporters of party X to "unfriend me if ur so lame u can't take the TRUTH, lol".

Re:Future Facebook experiments! (2)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 3 months ago | (#47345303)

Ok, guys, I swear that there were no misspellings when I typed "when they appear" in #2 above. IT HAS BEGUN.

Interesting story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47345391)

I have a new pair of sunglasses you need to try.

lol captcha: consent

No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346067)

This is the EXACT same thing that every news organization does. Why do you think Iraq was front page news all during the Bush presidency, with death counts every week? Now even when there's a civil war with thousands dead, it gets a brief mention on page A23. You shouldn't be unhappy, President McAwesome is doing everything right for you!

people use facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47346185)

how does an overgrown myspace clone end up on the stock market?

THIS STORY MAKES ME ANGRY!!! (1)

PortWineBoy (587071) | about 3 months ago | (#47346227)

Is /. doing the same thing?

You're surprised that Facebook does this? (1)

melting_clock (659274) | about 3 months ago | (#47346611)

Facebook users gave up their privacy and allow their personal data to be mined. Posts have been used against them by employers, criminals, government agencies, various companies and Facebook. Facebook sells your data to advertisers and other organisations. This really comes as a surprise to anyone?

What Facebook has shown is that they can easily manipulate their users in a predicable manner. In this case it was for a study but is there anything stopping them doing something like this as a service to advertisers? Could companies pay them to manipulate their users in to buying there products? Advertising is all about some level of manipulation but Facebook has taken this to a new level by manipulation without actual ads that might alert users to the attempt to manipulate.

To be fair, I'd expect web search engines have become more about manipulated results than present real search data. I know Google was once a great place to search for information on a topic, now a search brings up mostly companies trying to sell you things and stupid sub-search bullshit where the search in run through other search engines to give more nonsense results. It isn't about searching the web anymore.

Army funded (1)

santax (1541065) | about 3 months ago | (#47346651)

The research is (partly at least) army funded. That does explain why every academic ethic rule is ignored. Cornell has co-authored this research, so they can know. Check the last couples of lines to see for yourself. That part makes this even more disturbing. The media should include this 'small' detail. http://www.news.cornell.edu/st... [cornell.edu]
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