In 2012, Facebook – the largest Social Media platform in the world with 1.23 billion active users, decided to conduct a research to study the spread of emotions through online social networks.
Manipulating content in news feeds
Facebook users – who make up 1 out of 6 people in the world, get to see what their friends have posted through “daily news feeds”. For one week, Facebook researchers filtered posts from news feeds of 693,003 individuals based on their emotional content. Facebook researchers discovered that when only the positive posts were shown on a user’s news feeds, they ended up writing more positive posts themselves. When negative posts were shown on their news feeds, individuals ended up writing slightly more negative posts.
The results of this research are hardly surprising. By looking back at our own past experiences and events, our moods are often affected by those around us – which is why it is important to surround yourself with happy, positive people!
What incurred the ire of the public was the fact that Facebook researchers actually attempted to “manipulate” the emotions of their users without their knowledge. While the intention behind this research may be benign – to study how the human emotions can be influenced by those within their social circle – conducting such research without obtaining the explicit consent of users is a subject of ethical concern.
It is clear that humans are social beings who thrive in communities around them, no matter how involved an individual may be. Since even working adults are easily influenced by those around them, parents must be aware and concerned about the company their children keep. The young are especially impressionable and like to imitate the actions of those they interact with often. They are also very alert to their surroundings and the emotional behaviour of those around them. Be sure to let them know if they are misbehaving or not acting appropriately, otherwise, it will most likely turn into a bad habit – a nightmare for every parent.