Facebook held a study to see whether or not the type of content that is on their newsfeeds affected their user’s moods.
In 2012, for the duration of one week, researchers of Facebook tweaked hundred of thousands of user’s news feeds to either be more positive or negative than usual. After adjusting the news feeds, they monitored the user’s states updates to see if any changes occurred.
Published in the June 17 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” the researchers found that the user’s who saw positive posts wrote more positive posts, and those who saw more negative posts wrote more negative ones themselves.
This study has stirred controversy because the users never explicitly agreed to participate in the study. However, Facebook’s fine print that user’s agree to when signing up does say that their information can be used for research and other “internal operations.”
Adam D.I. Kramer, a Facebook employee and one of the study’s authors, took his own account to comment, “…My coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”
“We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out. At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook. We didn’t clearly state our motivations in the paper.”
Even the editors of the study were “concerned” about the ethics behind it.
Whether or not you feel uneasy with Facebook using your information, a positive can come out of the findings regarding positive updates on Facebook.
If you have just set a health or fitness goal, seeing your Facebook friends posting photos and checking in at your favorite fast food joint might tempt you. Reading posts about binge watching Netflix and ordering Chinese foods might make you wish you were doing the same.
However, if you “like” fitness, wellness, and nutrition pages, their motivational content will appear to give you that extra push. If you connect with like-minded #fitfam friends on your social media accounts, you are more likely to be inspired to eat that healthy meal or get off that couch and outside for that run. Posting health-encouraging content on your own page may help motivate your own Facebook friends. Groups, such as Facebook running groups, are a great way to encourage others and yourself. You may find people who may be going through the same triumphs and let downs that you are. You may learn new advice and tips, or even find other people who live close by to start a running club.
If you see negativity, you are more likely to think negative. Surround yourself with positive energy, whether it be on your social media sites, at your job, at home, or whether that means finding your own inner peace.
How do you stay positive? Does your news feed affect whether or not you stick to your goals? Do you wind up spending too much time on Facebook doing nothing, or does your Facebook a source of fitspiration?
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