thIn an effort to determine how human emotions work while individuals are physically separated from one another, Facebook changed News Feed information for 700,000 of its users in January 2012. By tweaking the algorithm, data scientists and researchers found that the emotional state of one individual could be transmitted to many others without face-to-face interaction.

In June 2014, the study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. During the experiment, researchers analyzed more than three million Facebook posts containing a combined 122 million words. The algorithm categorized the language as being positive or negative. The team then adjusted the number of positive or negative language items that users of the News Feeds were exposed to in order to see how they would react.

Researchers determined that when users saw fewer positive items, they wrote fewer positive posts. This indicates that verbal and textual information both have a major impact on emotions even if the tone or body language of the individual is not heard or seen. The emotions expressed by friends through social networks have the ability to influence our own moods.

All data was analyzed using computers, which means the researchers were not reading through every single post. Although you might feel strange about Facebook using your information in this study without your knowledge, you actually have already given your consent through their privacy policy. This allows the company to carry out such studies any time they want.

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