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Facebook Caught Manipulating News Feed, Pushed out Only Negative Posts

by on30 June 2014 1715 times

The dire warnings of manipulation through mass media are usually seen as the arena of the paranoid. Most will label anyone that claims we are being controlled in this manner as part of the tin foil hat club. Now that it we find that Facebook itself might have participated in an event designed to manipulate people’s emotions through their news feeds these claims do not sound too crazy any more.

According to information published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) journal Facebook allowed researchers to remove positive messages from a select group of people’s news feeds in an attempt to depress them. Facebook has already responded claiming that the study happened two years ago and only lasted for about a week. They further claim that it harmed no one, although we do not know who they were able to make that claim. The statement appeared lame and less than apologetic, although we have a feeling it will not hurt Facebook’s readership.

The simple fact is that Facebook can (and apparently will) manipulate news feeds for their own ends. What you are seeing on a daily basis is not just a representation of your friends and liked pages posts. Instead it could be only what Facebook wants you to see. Most of us have known they can do since they started limiting the organic reach of Facebook Pages. Now to reach more than about 15% of your audience you need to spend money.

Facebook maintains that this study was done to make Facebook services better. Facebook data guy Adam Kramer says that the tone of the paper is to blame. Kramer put up an apology on his own Facebook page stating: “I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety”

Personally, I cannot see how there is any positive benefit to the user with this study. It seems much more likely it is all about seeing how information presented by the “social” network and be used to manipulate the end user’s views and/or choices. This is something that should not be allowed.

You can read the journal here

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Last modified on 30 June 2014
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