Facebook Admits to Mood Manipulation – Creepy but Legal


Do you suspect that using Facebook makes you feel blue? It might not be your imagination.

Facebook admits they intentionally manipulated some of their users’ moods by tweaking what was shown in their news feed.

Researchers wanted to see if Facebook could alter the way we feel. So Facebook manipulated the news feeds delivered to almost 700,000 users. Some were intentionally shown more sad news, while others received more positive news.

Results showed that “emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.”

In simple language the answer is that yes, Facebook can alter your mood.

The study took place in 2012 but the study results were just published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can read the study here.

If you’d like to read Facebook’s response to criticism, you can read the study’s co-author’s response here.

Is this creepy? Undoubtedly. Facebook users were not notified so no one explicitly consent to be part of this study.

But is it legal? Technically, yes.

Deep in the small print in Facebook’s Data Use Policy it states that it collects data for “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” You can read Facebook’s Data Use Policy here.

A few things you to consider when using sites like Facebook:

They own your data. They have developed complex algorithms used to fill your newsfeed with items they think matches your unique set of interests.

They use this data to show you targeted ads. Selling advertising space is how Facebook makes its money.

I’ve done some advertising on Facebook and it’s amazing at how targeted you can make your ads! If you want your ads to show only to women 45 – 65 years old, living in California, who play golf, drink red wine, and shop at Whole Foods, Facebook’s algorithm let’s you do that. Is this a great marketing tool, or a violation of privacy? Depends which side of the coin you’re on.

Just remember that every time you click a link or an ad, “like” or share something, this is valuable data that is being collected and used. Sometimes it’s used to genuinely improve your user experience. But sometimes it’s used in ways you might not like.

Of course Facebook isn’t the only one doing this — not by a long shot! It’s no surprise that companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix are also gathering data on you. That’s how they know which search engine result, book, or movie to recommend.

But data mining goes way beyond this. Your personal data is collected and sold by data brokers.

When doing research on free online health quizzes I found that they are definitely not offered as a community service! The data you enter can be gathered and sold, even to your employer or insurance company!

If you’d like to minimize how much data is collected on you visit StopDataMining.me. Here you’ll find a master list of opt-out links to stop 50 top data brokers from collecting information on both your online and offline activities.

Your personal information is a very valuable commodity. It’s been said that “If you aren’t paying for it, you’re the product“. Keep that in mind when on the web, especially when using free online services like Facebook.


Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. She teaches the best ways to stay mentally sharp for life at her website BeBrainFit.com. Brain fog, “senior moments”, and fuzzy thinking are signs your brain is not working as well as it should. Discover how to nourish your brain and optimize your brainpower — sign up for her email series 21 Days to a Brighter Brain here.

Deane Alban
Deane Alban is co-founder of BeBrainFit.com and author of "Brain Gold: Brain Fitness Guide for Boomers" and "21 Days to a Brighter Brain."

Deane holds a bachelor's degree in biology from University of South Florida, where she also studied journalism. She has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years, including teaching healthy cooking classes.

As a baby boomer, Deane has turned her passion for healthy living to focus on a major problem people everywhere are facing – issues with mental decline right now and worries about Alzheimer's disease and dementia in the future. Deane brings the science down to earth in an entertaining and engaging way, giving her readers practical, easy-to-follow advice to keep their minds sharp for life.

Deane lives near Tucson, Arizona with her husband and business partner, Patrick, a retired chiropractor. She loves living in the desert where plenty of sunshine and outdoor activities help keep her mind young!