Tag Archives: emotions

Facebook Just Manipulated the Emotions of 700,000 Users Without Informing Them

When you sign up for Facebook, you have to agree to a whole laundry list of fine-print terms and conditions (which almost nobody ever reads). One of the things you consent to is Facebook’s Data Use Policy, which gives Facebook the right to use your info for, “…troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

Well, it seems that Facebook has taken full advantage of the “research” portion of that agreement. A study published two weeks ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) revealed that Facebook recently carried out an experiment that involved manipulating user’s emotions.

Basically, Faceobook wanted to know if removing sad, angry or otherwise negative terms from a user’s News Feed would affect how happy or sad the statuses they posted were.

So they randomly selected 689,003 users and tweaked the computer algorithms that determine what pops up on your News Feed. Some of the users were fed primarily neutral to happy information and stories, while others were fed primarily neutral to sad or depressing information.

It probably comes as a surprise to nobody that the users who were fed more negative information tended to post more gloomy statuses.

Congratulations Facebook, you proved something that 99% of 5th graders could have probably just told you.

But what about all of the users who Facebook intentionally made sad? Some serious questions have been raised about the ethics of the experiment.

Any experiment that receives federal funding has to abide abide by a code of rules known as the Common Rule for human subjects. The Common Rule’s definition of consent requires the researchers to give the test subjects, “a description of any foreseeable risks or discomforts to the subject.”

Facebook clearly didn’t abide by that standard, but since the test wasn’t federally funded, they are technically exempt. However, the PNAS also has its own set of rules for publication. Unfortunately, they seem to have bent or broken a few of them to publish the Facebook study.

Most notably, PNAS‘s guidelines for publishing require that a study abide the principles of the Helsinki Declaration, which states that test subjects must be,

“…adequately informed of the aims, methods, sources of funding, any possible conflicts of interest, institutional affiliations of the researcher, the anticipated benefits and potential risks of the study and the discomfort it may entail.”

Clearly, manipulating the emotions of 700,000 oblivious users is a blatant violation of this principle. With most people getting the bulk of their news and information on Facebook, it’s pretty unsettling to find out that they’re doing mass psychological testing on us.

Read the original story from Slate here.

How A Goat Ended His Hunger Strike After Re-Uniting With His Best Friend, A Donkey (Video)

The Animal Place is a non-profit sanctuary in California for abused and/or abandoned farm animals. Recently, they rescued a goat named Mr. G from an animal hoarder, who had been keeping a number of animals under terrible living conditions.

While living with the hoarder, Mr. G had developed a close bond with a donkey (also known as a burro) named Jellybean. When the animals were rescued however, Jellybean was sent to a different sanctuary. Mr. G was distraught- he sat depressed in a corner of his barn, refusing to eat or go outside for six days.

So one of the volunteers at Animal Place decided to make the 14-hour roundtrip to bring Jellybean to the same sanctuary where Mr. G was being kept. What happened when they re-united is truly beautiful.

Animals may not be quite as intelligent as we are, but many of them, especially mammals, have very highly developed emotional intelligence and are capable of creating lifelong friendships just like you and I.

To learn more about The Animal Place, visit their website here.

Examining Tears Under a Microscope Will Totally Change How You Look at Emotions (Pictures)

Rose-Lynn Fisher is a world-class photographer. Back in 2008, she was going through a particularly rough time- she had recently lost a number of people who were close to her, and had been doing a lot of crying.

One day while weeping, Fisher stopped herself from wiping the tears away and instead examined them closely. It gave her an idea: what would you see if you put tears under a microscope? Would they all look the same?

“You know that classic science experiment where they show us all the life that’s present in one drop of pond water? Well I wanted to find out what was present in one tear.”

Tears of ending or beginning

When Fisher examined her first tears she was surprised to see that on the microscopic level, the tears looked like aerial images, with the water, proteins, enzymes and other structures within the tear organizing into almost alien-like landscapes.

Fisher continued to collect tear samples, eventually collecting multiple samples of the three types of tears: basal or lubricating tears, reflex tears, which are secreted in response to irritants like onions, and the tears we release when we weep.

Check out more pictures of her tear samples below. Click an image to enlarge it and see what emotions produced the pattern.

Fisher is curious as to whether these landscapes within our tears could be almost a sort of map of the emotion that spurred the crying in the first place. While she stresses that she is not approaching the project as a scientist, Fisher is,

“still interested in asking questions through my visual exploration.”

Read more from Wired here. All images courtesy of Rose-Lynn Fisher.

Where Do We Feel Different Emotions? The Body Atlas (Graphic)

The Body Atlas (click to see full size)

A group of 700 participants was shown different images and videos associated with different emotional responses. After each visual, they self-reported parts of the body that felt different after experiencing the emotion.

Researchers compiled this data and created a “Body Atlas” showing how different emotions increase (warm colors) or decrease (cool colors) the amount of sensations we feel in different parts of the body.

Read more details about the project and experimentation here.