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Facebook experiments on users’ News Feeds to test emotions online

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Last Updated: Jul 1, 2014

Facebook wants to better understand humans and to do so they have started experiments on users’ News Feed, in order to gauge emotions online, while reading different types of negative and positive status updates from friends.

The end results were published in a long report by the scientists and researchers working on the project. Results showed that positive and negative News Feed can have an effect on the user behavior, more-so with negative than positive.

Facebook already has algorithms in place to detect whether a post is positive or negative. Using these algorithms, they were able to manipulate users’ News Feed to show more negative or positive content, changing their experience.

This is not illegal by any stretch of the imagination, Facebook did tell users this might happen in the Privacy Policy. Facebook makes almost all of their revenue from user ads and the better they understand users, the better their ads become.

Still, many might feel Facebook has gone too far and it is only a matter of time before worse things happen on their News Feed, in the name of science. We agree that testing on users is probably not the best way to keep them happy about privacy and in a time where Facebook might be slumping, they should be careful.

From this information, Facebook might be able to tune more contextual ads to the user at the right time. Understanding user emotion is critical for offering timely ads and can help bolster Facebook’s revenue and CPM.

Facebook has continue the growth upward from 1 billion users, but wants to be more than a social network for friends, adding in news aggregation and other features. This could make Facebook full of features users never try out and we may start seeing spring cleaning to remove some of the less popular features.


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