Facebook News Feed and Behavioral Research

Facebook is a phenomenon. With over a billion regular users, it has spun its web so brilliantly that everyone seems to love to use it. But the thing that truly makes it so powerful is that every user puts up a lot of personal information on its servers. From your music interests to the places you visit etc. Facebook knows it all. 

Using Personal Information

Normally, Facebook uses our information to optimize our Facebook experience, much like Google, Yahoo and many other tech giants do. Ads, things appearing in our news feeds and everything you are seeing whenever you open up Facebook is appearing according to your interests and preferences.

Recently, Facebook went beyond this. It participated in a psychological research where it tinkered with the news feeds of millions of users to observe the changes in their moods with the changes in their news feeds. It was found that those people who had slightly more positive things popping up on their news feeds were more cheerful while those who had negative stuff were more depressed and stressed out. Although this method of doing such research has incredible potential with the sheer scale of the sample size unlike anything that can be managed otherwise, it is still hugely controversial.

Facebook Has No Right

Anyone signing up for conventional behavioral research experiments know exactly what they are in for. They are offering themselves to be tested inside certain limits at times they are comfortable with. However with Facebook's method of research, the test subjects are not in on the fact that they are being test subjects.

The most common cause of alarm is that Facebook has no right to affect a user's life as it sees fit. To realize that your moods can be controlled by someone who you feel doesn't have the right to, is unfair. When we were signing up for Facebook, we signed up for a social media platform, not some social experiments device.

Allow People to Sign Up

However uneasy it might feel to the common user, the Facebook user base is too big of an opportunity to be not made use of for social experiments. What Facebook should do is allow users the opportunity to sign up for these experiments themselves. Even if 1 percent of all the users do sign up, the researchers will still have millions of people to do research studies on, which it seems like will be the best solution for everyone.

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