Facebook's 'creepy' psych experiment is just a beat-up

Despite the outrage in the media, a little bit of context suggests the social network's research around manipulating its users' emotions is neither controversial nor unethical.

During a single week in January, 2012, Facebook conducted an experiment involving almost 700,000 users. By scaling back the number of posts containing positive and negative words, Facebook ended up validating their hypothesis that emotional states “can be transferred to others via emotional contagion” -- or, as my mother used to say, smiles last for miles and a frown can get you down.

Quietly releasing the results of its two-year-old study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science last week, Facebook could hardly have anticipated the outrage.


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