Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015
Digital Life

Facebook secretly manipulated news feeds of 700,000 users for study: Report

Published on Jun 29, 2014 8:57 PM
A study on emotional contagion, during which Facebook tampered with the algorithm for people's news feeds to examine how it affected their moods, has prompted anger on social media. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A study detailing how Facebook secretly manipulated the news feed of some 700,000 users to study "emotional contagion" has prompted anger on social media.

For one week in 2012, Facebook tampered with the algorithm used to place posts into user news feeds to study how this affected their mood.

The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with Facebook, Cornell University, and the University of California at San Francisco, appeared in the June 17 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (

The researchers wanted to see if the number of positive, or negative, words in messages they read affected whether users then posted positive or negative content in their status updates. Indeed, after the exposure the manipulated users began to use negative or positive words in their updates depending on what they were exposed to.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!