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Facebook manipulated users emotions for research

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We've heard before about people becoming envious of others after looking at their posts on Facebook, but as it turns out, the green-eyed monster is not the only emotion social networking inspires.

According to a study conducted by Facebook in 2012, the social network can also make people feel happier or sadder.

When Facebook conducted the study, along with Cornell University, they looked at the profiles  of nearly 700,000 users. During a one-week period, they manipulated peoples posts to be more positive, or more negative, to see what users reactions would be. 

It's a lot like yawning, because instead of feeling left out and envious, if people saw happy posts, they were more likely to feel happy. If they saw sad posts, people made more depressed posts.

But when the study recently came out, folks were angry at the social networking giant for doing the experiment without their knowledge. We asked Susan Fiske, a psychology professor at Princeton University who edited the study, what she had to say about the privacy issue.

"Usually people have to give informed consent to being in research, but not always," said Fiske. "Under some circumstances if your behavior is in a public place for example, somebody can stand on a street corner with a recording device and pay attention to what you're doing if what you're doing is in a public place. In some ways a lot of our online behavior has become public."

Facebook is also covered legally, because this sort of thing is covered in their terms of serviceKashmir Hill, who's been writing about this issue, also joined Alex Cohen to talk about Facebook's response to the outrage and how they've been manipulating users news feeds for a while now.


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