Facebook users’ emotions controlled by manipulating newsfeed content

Facebook and other social media networks seem to have come of age. That is, like mainstream media corporations, they are now in a position to deliberately manipulate their audience’s emotions. The results of an experiment conducted on almost 700,000 Facebook users published on the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America revealed how controlling the content on Facebook newsfeeds could influence their owners’ moods.

hypnosisAn effect called emotional contagion was observed when positive content was increased or decreased in newsfeeds. Experimenters used a system to query a digital dictionary for words associated with positive or negative emotions and use these to manipulate the way content containing these words appear on the test subjects’ newsfeeds. The results were quite conclusive…

[…] for people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people’s status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive. When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.

Not only did the nature of emotional content in newsfeeds affect users’ behaviour but also the quantity of such content…

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People who were exposed to fewer emotional posts (of either valence) in their News Feed were less expressive overall on the following days, addressing the question about how emotional expression affects social engagement online.

The implications of these findings are far-reaching, as the potency of the effect of Facebook newsfeeds on users’ minds may be more profound than that of mainstream media. This is because Facebook content tends to be more relevant to its users because these are generated by sources to which users have a social relationship with and are more targeted thanks to the now infamous ranking algorithm used by Facebook to determine how, when, and how frequently posts appear in newfeeds.

6 Replies to “Facebook users’ emotions controlled by manipulating newsfeed content”

  1. I have no FaceBook account; they hacked my computer; when I was using FaceBook. So, I discontinued its use.

    Our mind , brain, personality and emotion are very complicated entities…because we cannot open the brain of a live person and cut the brain to study it. Emotion cannot still be fully understood.

    However , Brainwashing is a tool that political propagandists use to misinform the people. Here, the Aquino propaganda machine uses covert type. In totalitarian regime, like North Korea; it is part of their daily dose of information.

    We have many PsychoAnalysts, that studied our mind: from Freud to Jung. So far, we know only about 5% of the mind…some even tried to study the Mind of God…

  2. They are now researching about “mental telepathy”. The Physicist/cosmologist : Stephen Hawkins use an Integrated Circuit connected to his left eye; and wired to his brain. This is how he talks by his computer.
    Some researchers had uploaded in a computer; the dream of a person. They are trying to do a extensive research on the : Right brain and the Left brain…so far the future is good for those neuro researcher/scientists with IT background…any Filipino young men interested in this field?

  3. Just the fact that you are on Facebook means that “they” got to you already.

    Fuck Facebook! Don’t have it, don’t want it!

    It’s only good for checking on your Exes to see how fat they got.

  4. FB is a pretty cool tool (sign in to oter sites without creating an account, scrape your fiends info into your address book automagically, play games when idle), as long as you use it as one. Dont let it dictate your life.
    The internet is vast. FB, youtube, twitter, yahoo and google are not the only places in it. Use it to gain knowledge; not gossip. Use it to better yourself, not let it get the best of you. That being said, if you dont have anything better to do than read your newsfeed all day, you might want to log off and explore other web sites.

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