Yes, you read it right. In an experiment conducted by Facebook couple of years ago, they found that they can manipulate your mood by showing you excessive negative or positive posts on your timeline. This change in mood then gets reflected in your own posting i.e. if you are exposed to a negative timeline, you end up sharing/posting negative stuff on Facebook (source).
While privacy and consumer rights activists are up in arms over this psychological experiment conducted by Facebook, I believe a much wider and sinister implication arises from such an experiment, especially for those living outside America..
Because today Facebook is the largest and most widely used social network in the world and people spend more time using it, than anything else online. Facebook has also been effectively used for organizing lobbying, protests, revolts and even riots!
Since America has a known track record of sparking civil unrest against regimes it doesn’t likes and Facebook is an American company, can the US government use it one day to flame sentiments against governments it wants to overthrow?
After all, US has employed similar tactics in past (albeit through other means) to spread discontent and resentment against various regimes. And with Facebook, US now has a tool to effectively, easily, covertly and cheaply target a country, city or even a small town.
By showing you news and comments about an incident from a certain perspective, America/Facebook could possibly influence how you feel about it (which may not be something you initially felt). Because these news items and comments are posted, shared and liked by those who are known to us or are at least in our friend list. So impact of these on our psyche would be much greater than news in TV or newspaper.
Now I am not saying US Government is doing this already or that Facebook is in cahoots with the US Government. However at the end of the day, Facebook is an American company and has to comply with orders issued by its government to not only function, but also ensure its growth and interests are protected in the long run.
And while I seriously hope that Facebook has the spine to stand up against such gross misuse of its network by America. I cannot help but feel that I need to pay less and leas emphasis on what I see and read on Facebook. And make more of conscious attempt to preserve my neutral perspective and not be easily influenced by Facebook statuses.