Within a few months I was making contact with old friends, family – distant and close and having a great time and really enjoying myself. I became very adept at the site and had success with creating a page that had tens of thousands of subscribers, on the back of a worldwide meme phenomenon that I am a bit embarrassed about now but it had something to do with people laying prone and rigid.
I even created a page for my business, had many people like and follow my business page and even paid for advertising which didn’t give me the return I had hoped for given the amount I had invested. It was an experiment in a new platform and I was happy to spend the money to find out if it was worthwhile method for seeking new business.
Within months, Facebook slowly become a large part of my life. I posted funny images, I created original funny quips and loved the likes and reading the responses. I joined many different and a wide array of groups and watched my feed slowly taken over by group messages and ads. Then something interesting happened. No longer was I seeing new stories from friends and family, instead I started seeing world events and commentary on world events, in particular negative and quite shocking stories became more prominent in my feed.
I slowly drifted away from the world of friends and family into a feed filled with negative stories about the world. People asked me if I saw there post, or why didn’t I respond to their message. Eventually I figured out if I wanted to see friends or family messages, I had to actually click on their name and scroll through their feed to catch up and comment.
In the meantime, my world view became quite negative and I was starting to feel a bit depressed about the world and the state it was in. It affected my mood so much I decided to quit Facebook for a minimum of three months to see how I felt.
Of course, after the initial shock of feeling out of the social loop I gradually became used to the idea of not being so reliant on social media. At that point, I thought it was time to return and I did. Friends said they knew it was temporary and said I would be back but welcomed me back to the platform anyway. And for a while things were fine, just like normal, like it was when I first joined the platform.
And then I game across an article; Everything We Know About Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment
I read the article and was shocked. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and it became obvious to me that I may have been an unknowing participant. I was horrified that this could happen; that an organisation could secretly set out to see if they could modify your mood without telling you, without your permission.
After quitting once, it was easy to quit again. I will never return to Facebook and even closed my business page. If indeed I was a part of Facebook’s mood manipulation experiment or not, it became obvious to me that social media’s benefits far outweigh to potential for hazard it could potentially create. They own you, the data you share and your feelings and thoughts are for them to do whatever they want to do with them because they can get away with it.
When you sign up to Facebook you must accept their terms and conditions. You may not read them but if you want to use their platform you must accept their right to do whatever they want to you and your data. And these terms and conditions are not fixed, they are fluid and change regularly.
It may be completely legal for a company to do this but is it ethical or moral?