Regardless of whether you're in the Invasion of Myspace camp, or the Well That's How Business Works camp, Facebook has been playing games with your heart. As we all now ought to know, Facebook has admitted to experimentally filtering feed results to test emotional response and behavior in users. While it's hard to consider experimentation without informed consent to be anything less than blatantly shady, it's also well within their legal rights. Ethical it ain't, but then again deskchair epidemiology has never had the luxury of such self-selecting scale.
But the biggest bummer—other than seeing an upswing in pictures of your exes and their stupid beautiful lives—is that we didn't get to see the results! Not so any longer. Artist Lauren McCarthy created the Mood Manipulator, a browser extension that allows you the gratification of choosing your own digitally devised mood swings.
Now you can choose your own emotional filtering rather than passively interacting with a pre-adjusted feed filtered by unseen researchers without enough scruple to feel weird studying emotional effects in people who have not been notified. These tasteful opt-in controls give you four tonal "channels" with three positions each: Positive, Emotional, Aggressive and Open (in other news four-metric psych news, the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless). Just download the extension and toggle your way to psycho-social harmony.
In the artist's own words:
[The Mood Manipulator] is based on Facebook's research into massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. The linguistic analysis is done with Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC), the same system used in the Facebook study. Aw yes, we are all freaked about the ethics of the Facebook study. And then what? What implications does this finding have for what we might do with our technologies? What would you do with an interface to your emotions?
My answer: try to figure out which configuration produces maximum dog pictures and minimum sensationalist news and/or wedding stories. Sorry to say that for me the result of a run at high Positivity, medium Emotion, low Aggressive, and medium Open produced a series of stories that I feel sad even remembering. So even the past week has been unusually full of terrible news, your manipulation mileage—like your patience for Facebook's creepy behavior—may vary.
Or we could all just drink the