“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
Many years ago subliminal advertising was banned by law because it manipulated how people thought – brainwashed them to a degree. Since then the practice has been frowned upon, but, with the popularity of social media, are some people, particularly in some government agencies, trying to secretly manipulate us again?
In January 2012, Facebook ran a secret experiment on 689,000 of its users.
The purpose of that experiment was to see if the company could change those peoples’ moods by altering their news feeds.
The scary thing is that it worked.
The study found that by manipulating the News Feeds displayed to 689,003 Facebook users, it could affect the content which those users posted to Facebook. More negative News Feeds led to more negative status messages, and more positive News Feeds led to more positive statuses.
This means, as the report on the experiment stated, “that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.” To put it another way, it is the manipulation of the herd, or zombie, mentality.
Such mass manipulation is only possible now with the immediacy and vast scale of social networks such as Facebook. Now, because of the numbers of people involved, even minor manipulations in how they think can have far reaching consequences.
One of the groups funding the experiment was the US Army which flags up big question marks over their motives and over Facebook’s place as an independent commercial operation.
The fact that government agencies are experimenting as to how they can influence people online has been known for some time, but you have to search for the evidence because they never tell you what they are up to.
The mass surveillance that whistleblower Edward Snowden highlighted is only the first step in a more sinister process. The big question everyone should be asking is, once the government and its agencies have gathered all of that information on us, what are they going to use it for? There must be some end goal. You can be sure that just leaving terrabytes of data languishing in remote computer server farms is not it.
The most obvious use of that information is to manipulate people, which is essentially what the Facebook experiment tells us. Only the moronically naïve or dumb would think otherwise.
In the commercial online world where everyone is used to free services paid for by advertising, information can be used to manipulate consumers into becoming indirect paying customers by simply turning their private information into cash. The more personal, detailed and intimate the data on you is, the more valuable it is to the company collecting and selling it, either directly, or indirectly via targeted advertising especially for you. Yes, what you see when you go to a Google search page is not what I see!
In the world of government control, some of their spy agencies will collect information just for the bureaucratic hell of it. Don’t believe that the NSA, that Snowden highlighted, is the only government data-thief. It may well be the biggest and best funded, but there are many others busy snooping away. And not just in the USA, but in Britain, China, Russia, and many other powerful countries too.
These groups will justify their unwanted intrusions into our private lives by hanging a ‘national security’ sign on it, it’s the excuse they always use. To an extent that is true at the moment since they use information collected by these snooping techniques to smear the reputations of what are deemed to be ‘enemies of the state’. They used to do much the same via planted news reports and information given to friendly newspaper journalists to disseminate. At the moment ‘enemies of the state’ are terrorist groups, particularly Islamic terrorists like ISIS. But in the future, who knows?
Increasingly government agencies will use the manipulation of social media to influence the general population and thereby bring about outcomes that suit their needs.
George Orwell had the right idea about what would happen. His only problem was that he chose the wrong title for his book. By 1984 technology had not caught up with the aspirations of those who wish to exert such control.
Now it is almost here.
3 thoughts on “Were YOU Part Of The Secret Facebook Experiment?”
I read 1984 when that year was far into the future. We should be aware of the manipulation of Facebook. I confess I am still on FB but post very little. “Free” is not always free. And I remember subliminal advertising! Thanks for the reminder to think for ourselves!
Thanks for reading this post and for your comments. It’s always good to try to figure out what’s going on, but not always easy these days.
[…] Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.) […]