Facebook reveals news feed experiment to control emotions

Robert Booth writing at The Guardian:

It already knows whether you are single or dating, the first school you went to and whether you like or loathe Justin Bieber. But now Facebook, the world’s biggest social networking site, is facing a storm of protest after it revealed it had discovered how to make users feel happier or sadder with a few computer key strokes.

It has published details of a vast experiment in which it manipulated information posted on 689,000 users’ home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of “emotional contagion”.

The list of reasons for me to abandon Facebook just keeps growing.

  1. They use my private data to target ads at me.
  2. I no longer rely on it to find out what my friends are up to.
  3. I don’t even know if the events in my newsfeed have been tweaked to affect me since Facebook doesn’t have the courtesy to inform people when they do that test.

Just to reiterate my position:

I joined Facebook to remain connected to friends who by virtue of distance or other circumstances I’m unable to meet up with in person to connect over a cup of coffee every so often. I did not sign up to be bombarded with irrelevant messages, to be ‘friends’ online in name only and least of all to become a test subject.

Is it finally time to jump ship from Facebook? Indeed I think so.

Read the entire article here.


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