I just finished watching "The Social Network" movie for the third time. Only a couple of minutes after I was done I came across this article on Huffington Post regarding Facebook's experiment that manipulated emotions of several Facebook users by changing what was being shown to them.
The experiment conducted by facebook continued for one week in 2012 when the original algorithm for the news feed was replaced by one which made certain people see more optimistic posts, and others pessimistic stories.
What facebook found was that the responce of users was in clear corrspondance with what was being shown to them. No surpirse!
The information, which is now public has generated all sorts of reactions from Facebook users. There are both kinds of people — those who want to quite the social network, and those who protect the company.
Personally, I am strongly against any such experiments, and have not read any convincing comments favoring the company. It seems clear that the information of the experiment can effect how people see Facebook even if it lasts for a comple of days.
Being a strong lover of science of psychologoy myself, I understand that while some emotions go a long way in building our decions there are those that last only for a couple of days (or weeks in some cases).
While Facebook's quest for knowledge regarding the users' emotional reactions may only have triggerd some depressing feelings in some people for a while, there is no reason for us not to believe that it might have caused some havocs which we might not have discovered.
I don't yet know the basis on which facebook's algorithm decided who gets to see what, but let's assume that someone is already going through bad times, and then Facebook comes in the way and shows them more depressing stuff; in turn, making them make bad decisions which they may not recognize immidiately.
I am not saying that this theory is entirely true, but I don't think it would be wrong to consider the possiblity.
I appriciate Facebook's efforts in research related to social psychology, but there are also many ways in which I personally dislike Facebook (not saying that you should too).
Anyway, if I was to give my personal opinion I would ask people to maintain a healthy life and not let social networks and what they see on their screen determine their life. At the same time I also strongly encourage social psychology researchers and companies who dominate internet and social networks to not to conduct such experiments without proper precautions.
There is nothigng wrong in using a social networks, but it's also important to know your boundaries.