Facebook Tried To Alter Mood Of Nearly 700,000 By Tweaking News Feeds

MENLO PARK (CBS SF) – Facebook is getting a face-full of outrage Monday from privacy advocates after it was revealed that the social network conducted a psychological experiment on unwitting users.

The Menlo Park-based company conducted a one-week study in 2012 to see if they could influence user mood by altering news feeds.

Employees tweaked the visible content for nearly 700,000 users to provide them with either upbeat posts or primarily negative news. The company then monitored subsequent posts to see how positive or negative the studied user’s posts were.

Privacy advocates say the research was done without telling Facebook users. The terms of service say your account can be used for research, but some argue that the experiment goes beyond that standard.

“I know Facebook experiments in terms of what they show people on news feed, but it’s creepy when people think their emotions are being messed with, and also that researchers are looking over their shoulders, so to speak, and recording what they are saying—even if it is for research purposes” said KCBS technology analyst Larry Magid.


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