Let us see if we have this straight: Facebook is a company that has been publicly traded for just slightly more than two years. It pays no dividend so its key attraction for its shareholders is that it knows how to run and grow its business. Its initial public offering launch was one of the biggest fiascos in modern finance. Its core asset from which its revenues flow is based on the loyalty and growth of its user base upon whom it decided to conduct secret psychological experiments – and then publish the findings.
But wait. It gets worse.
Facebook’s secret human lab rat study on a self-described “massive” 689,003 of its users was published just last month in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences under the title: “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks.” The study said the significant finding was that “emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”
According to Facebook, this is what they did to manipulate the behavior of its unpaid and involuntary human lab rats:
“In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and non-verbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.”