Tag Archives: facebook

So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)

so-does-facebook-influence-users-or-notTwo days after the election, Mark Zuckerberg said the following at a meeting in California:

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.

For those of us who’ve spent any time on Facebook in the last 18 months and who’ve tried to engage in conversations with people whose political arguments include conspiracy theories, Zuckerberg’s comment was a record-scratch moment. Continue reading So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)

The So-Far Wasted Potential of Big Data

The So-Far Wasted Potential of Big DataBig data has been a very hot topic in both technology and behavior science for some time now. People quickly grasp the possibilities big data opens. Theoretically, we can combine all sorts of rich information about individuals, from their shopping habits to their web browsing to their health records to their traffic violations, and use it to engage them in a product, sell them a service, or guide them to better health (I had to add at least one truly prosocial use there).  Continue reading The So-Far Wasted Potential of Big Data

Facebook announces new research guidelines

Facebook announces newThree months after inciting the ire of researchers and users with their stealth emotional manipulation study, Facebook has announced a revised research policy. The new policy addresses four key areas:

  • Clearer guidelines for researchers
  • An additional layer of review
  • Enhanced training for new Facebook employees around research
  • Increased transparency via a page compiling all Facebook research

Continue reading Facebook announces new research guidelines

Social Media Illusions: Impression Management and Comparison Standards

Social Media Illusions- ImpressionZilla van den Born, a Dutch student, recently spent six weeks posting updates and photos from her gap year tour in Asia on Facebook for her family and friends. She Skyped her parents from her hotel room, posted photos of the exotic foods she was eating, and showed off cultural sites. Except she did it all from home. Continue reading Social Media Illusions: Impression Management and Comparison Standards

Facebook’s Informed Consent Problem

FACEBOOK'S INFORMED CONSENT ISSUEYou’ve undoubtedly heard by now about Facebook’s large scale emotion manipulation study, conducted on their site users. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found that when Facebook users saw a greater concentration of negative posts in their newsfeed, they were more likely to post negative statuses themselves; the same pattern emerged for positive status updates. [This research probably also partially explains Facebook’s insistence on pushing the Top Stories sort on users regardless of their preference; it’s the manipulation in a massive social science study. Which doesn’t make it any less of a violation of users’ sense of autonomy, and thus a poor motivational experience.]

The study has its problems, which I’ll get into, but the thing that really makes me angry about it is the cavalier attitude it reveals toward informed consent. Informed consent is a requirement of human subjects research. What is means is that if a person is being manipulated in any way, they must give explicit permission to the researcher to be a part of the study. The informed piece is important: Continue reading Facebook’s Informed Consent Problem

Why the Facebook Top Stories Sort Makes People Angry

If you’re one of the 1.28 billion people who use Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that there are a few different ways to sort your news feed. My favorite sort is “most recent,” which arranges my friends’ activity in reverse chronological order. I can browse starting from the newest activity and scroll down until I reach the first familiar post, which indicates I’m fully up to date. Facebook also has a sort called “Top Stories” which uses an algorithm to determine which of your friends’ posts should surface to the top of your feed. My guess is that the algorithm accounts for factors such as likes and comments on a post, as well as originality (i.e. a Facebook-originated status will carry more weight than a link from another site).

For a user like myself, with a only few hundred friends (only!), the Top Stories sort is sub-optimal. Continue reading Why the Facebook Top Stories Sort Makes People Angry