I’ve spent pretty much all day reading as much as possible about the extremely controversial Facebook “emotional contagion” study in which the company intentionally altered its news feed algorithm to see if it could manipulate its users’ emotions. In case you weren’t aware, Facebook is always altering your news feed under the assumption that there’s no way they could fill your feed with all of your “friends’” pointless, self-absorbed, dull updates (there’s just too much garbage).
As such, Facebook filters your news feed all the time, something which advertisers must find particularly convenient. In any event, the particular alteration under question occurred during one week in January 2012, and the company filled some people’s feeds with positive posts, while others were fed more negative posts.
Once the data was compiled, academics from the University of California, San Francisco and Cornell University were brought in to analyze the results. Their findings were then published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found that: