Facebook has admitted that they secretly conducted a emotional contagion study to see how using the social media site effects moods and behaviour.
The study took place over the week of January 11-18 back in 2012 and was designed to measure the tendencies of a group of individuals who were emotionally connected.
To do this, Facebook rigged users news feeds to manipulate the emotional content.
They found that when they manipulated the feed to contain a lot of positive information, users posted more and were less negative.
The reverse happened when Facebook manipulated users feeds to contain more negative posts- users posted less and were more likely to spread negative news.
“These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks,” states the report which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Journal (PNAS).
While the results of the study prove that social media can impact our moods in either a positive or negative way, many are annoyed at the fact that Facebook conducted the study without users permission.
Facebook state that their study did not breach their terms of service and claim that users’ posts were not visibly modified.
It would not be hard to believe however, that this is not the first “secret study” Facebook has conducted on how users interact with the site.