A privacy group has sued Facebook for manipulating news feeds to test for emotional contagion. Emotional contagion is simply the spreading of emotional states from person to person and we don’t have to have a PhD to know that that happens.
But why would somebody want to have research on how to do it? Well, it’s a pretty effective way to manufacture consent, hype everyone up for war or even to induce people to buy a certain cake mix.
“The research sought to show whether emotions can be influenced with no face-to-face contact by altering Facebook’s algorithm to show mostly positive or negative posts. The study found that people whose news feeds contained more positive comments tended to make more positive comments and those who took in more negative posts were more bummed out in their own posts.”
You probably already know that emotions are contagious. I am currently working on a beginning reader, critical thinking comic book with five stories in it for the price of one. I happened today to be working on “Oh,no, not the toe!” which is about moral panics, or emotional contagion. Fear and panic are part of everyday life in America. There is way too much of it floating around, don’t you think?
I think that the most subversive thing a citizen can do is to refuse to fear.