Emotional Manipulation Facebook Style

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

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I’m angry. Not because I didn’t already know the fact that just using the internet means we give up many of our privacy rights. I know our data is mined by search engines. And, websites use cookies to track if we are new users or old. Don’t let me get started on the times I’ve download a software for “free” and if I’m not very, very, careful I get all kinds of adware, harmless but a nuisance that will attach itself to my computer and change my browser preference. However, this time I think they’ve gone too far.

Emotional Manipulation -- what's that got to do with Facebook? #hsradionetwork blog

Are you unsure of what I mean? In case you haven’t heard Facebook allowed an experiment to be conducted on their users. For one week in 2012 Facebook changed the newsfeeds of more than half a million users, randomly. Some people were shown a higher number of positive posts, while others were shown more negative posts. Then the scientists went to work, analyzing the results. The researchers were able to manipulate the users without permission and worse, without them knowing it. In fact if you have a Facebook account like I do, it could be us! More Information here

So, what does this mean? We were part of a science project! Social engineering at its best, and there’s more. The response by the psychologist’s study was considered within the legal realms, but I ask, “What about ethics?” This is bigger than any of us realize. If we stay silent we may find this is the beginning of yet more infringements.

Why am I complaining? Didn’t I realize that Facebook is free? Yes, but this time free comes with a price, manipulation of our moods! As if we need Facebook trying to make us more depressed, whatever were they thinking?

There have been rumblings that Facebook will soon charge the users a small monthly fee. And if they move to a paid model, will only those who pay be exempt from future experiments? I wonder…

While I do everything I can to insure personal privacy online, such as adjusting my browser settings to read “do not track,” I’m unsure of the success or failure of these attempts. Just because some States have legalized marijuana, it doesn’t mean we are all sitting around out of it! This is more than tracking.

In college as a psychology major we had to obtain written permission before we conducted any human experiments. I had to get my parent’s permission to administer an IQ (intelligent quotient) test on my younger brothers. And, yet Facebook can do this “legally” because we’ve signed the agreement to use the website. Probably buried in the hundreds of pages is permission for psychological, random manipulation.

I ended up changing my major in college from psychology to education. Now I’m seriously considering trading in my Facebook account for a Sgrouples account. I interviewed the CEO of Sgrouples a year ago (listen to it here) and he said we’d be alarmed when we found out what was in the works with Facebook, and he was right! I’d move today if all of you would move with me…

And that is the issue, right? All our friends are on Facebook.

So what do we do? We protest. We send letters to Facebook headquarters email them and let them know we don’t want to be part of their social projects. What do you think? Am I overreacting or do you feel the same way? Let me know, and share this post with others.



  1. Wow! Facebook just keeps taking more and more liberty with its users! It may be time to ditch FB altogether!

  2. I think it’s ridiculous and disgusting, and FB should be fined. I didn’t sign up to be experimented on.

  3. Yes, this kind of manipulation is not fair. They really should have gotten people’s permission before messing with their info, maybe even asked for volunteers for their study. I have been thinking about changing to a different place to post my photos and communicating with my loved ones. I hear too many of my Facebook friends complaining about having their Facebook accounts hijacked, getting viruses from the site, etc. It is time for a move! Thanks for the post. I will be sharing it with my friends!

  4. I don’t have a Facebook account, and I’m glad I don’t. However, I think I have been ‘manipulated’ at times by the news on my email account, etc. I need to be so careful about what I read.

  5. Amber V. says

    Wow. I shouldn’t be surprised. I have long disliked the ever changing policies on Facebook & also how they seem more & more through selected ads, etc. to be gathering information. I was surprised to read this & it gives a sort of “big brother” feel which I am uncomfortable with. I have long wished to make a change when it comes to facebook as well as how much power I allow it to have over me in that it’s just too easy to waste time on there instead of investing in real life. Now that is my own lack of self control but like you said it’s hard because all of our friends are on there!

  6. UGH! That’s all I can say.

  7. I actually deleted my FB recently because of many reasons, so I was not on to see this, but I can see why you and many others would be upset about this. I am not surprised that they are doing this, the government has been looking for ways to control the population even more than they already do, and what better way than to use social media as a tool. Practically everyone is on social media and honestly, had the study not come out to say that they had been manipulating you, no one would have ever know the difference. Frightening to think about just what they could do to us through the internet.

  8. Shelly Roy says

    I have no doubt that FB allowed this experiment in the name of our signing privacy notices. I rarely read my news feed, mostly use the messaging and search for my favorite “peeps” ie family and make sure I keep up with their lives.
    Sgrouple is an intriguing thought, you are right though, all our friends are on FB. SO, use the private messaging and/or create an exit from FB event page. Might work!
    Keep up the good work!

  9. I tend to agree with the CEO of Sgrouples . I think we would all be alarmed if we knew all that was going on behind the scenes on FB and in other areas. Until we care enough to become informed then there won’t be any real change.

  10. I don’t think you are overreacting… it angers me, too.
    I realize there are inherent “dangers” with social media and I fully expect that they will do things that bother me or that I personally find deceptive and manipulative.
    However, at this point I’m not upset enough about it to quit Facebook (there’s honest for ya!)…

  11. Judith Martinez says

    I should probably back up all the photos I have on Facebook, just in case.

  12. Marisa Lin says

    That’s just so wrong. I do not want to be part of FB experiments just because I signed up for a free account. They never even asked us if they could do any experiments. It should be voluntary….

  13. I have Facebook and I love connecting with everyone there. I also have a google+ account. But, Google has it’s own privacy issues. I even have an Sgrouples account because you suggested it, Felice. I won’t pay for Facebook. I guess I should start cultivating my friendships on other fields as well. What is it they say? “Don’t have all your eggs in one basket…”

  14. I was concerned when I saw that 700K person study they did without our permission on FB. It goes to show that we think we are ‘private’ on social media, but there is no privacy when you put your private information on the Internet.

  15. I have facebook too. Just went to a homeschool convention seminar that warned us how nothing we do on the computer is really 100% private. They can see private messages and emails if they want to. Our kids need to be careful not to post their locations- edit the settings- even cell phones show where you are. Our kids should also not post their school, town, teams they play on, their last name, on etc. This is because facebook can get hacked. My friend had her facebook hacked which seems to have gone into many of our friends’ emails too.

  16. Sandra L. says

    I’ve dumped Facebook once before and only came back because I missed all the missionaries I was connected to, but I’m about ready to get rid of it again. I definitely won’t pay for fb!!

  17. Jessica Evans says

    The joke on that new liberal comedians show (Oliver) a week or so ago was that they could slip Mein Kampf into a user agreement for Facebook and no one would bother reading it. Everyone would just click “I agree” and continue on. Facebook is a scary tool. Be wise, read your agreements and understand that you’ve already given up so much of your privacy. Your pictures, your statuses, your relationships… your browsing history, your interests, even what you look at on Ebay. Facebook IS an invasion. The question: Is it worth it? :/ As the days go on, and the scandals progressively get larger, (the latest scandal is the ability for them to scan your sound for commercial interests) the answer is becoming a resounding NO. <3

  18. That is so crazy! I had no idea. :/

  19. I haven’t heard this, but it doesn’t surprise me. I was a huge Facebook adict back in 2012. I canceled my account in august of that year, and after the initial detox, I haven’t missed it at all. What I realized is I was becoming a very judgmental or jealous person, feeling frustrated and angry and so on. I was led to quite, and it feels so freeing. I think you can complain until your blue in the face, but as long as most people don’t care, which they don’t, and even if they do they won’t quit, Facebook will go on doing whatever it likes. It’s disturbing what information they can obtain about you from that site. And they get you hooked to q point where you don’t feel you can live without it. I say quite, your true friends will still be there when you do.

  20. Lori Barrett says

    I’m really not surprised as we are losing more freedoms all the time. 🙁

  21. DL Harmon says

    I think some of it is the ‘cost’ of having the internet.

  22. Gretchen H says

    Ugh, I hadn’t heard about this.

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