HONG KONG (CNNMoney) – Internet users have reacted angrily to news that Facebook researchers manipulated the content some users were shown in an attempt to gauge their emotional response.
For one week in early 2012, Facebook (FB, Tech30) changed the content mix in the News Feeds of almost 690,000 users. Some people were shown a higher number of positive posts, while others were shown more negative posts.
The results of the experiment, conducted by researchers from Cornell, the University of California, San Francisco and Facebook, were published this month in the prestigious academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The study found that users that were shown more negative content were slightly more likely to produce negative posts. Users in the positive group responded with more upbeat posts.
So it worked! Facebook was able to successfully change the emotional state of its users. While the mood changes were small, the researchers argued that the findings have major implications given the size and scale of the social network.