Facebook Boosted US Election Turnout Via Psychology Experiment, Company Reveals – 4 November 2014

RT logoFacebook manipulated the news feeds of almost 2 million American users during the 2012 presidential election without telling them. The manipulation led to a 3 percent increase in voter turnout, according to the company’s own data scientist.

In a stunning revelation, the three months prior to Election Day in 2012 saw Facebook “tweak” the feeds of 1.9 million Americans by sharing their friends’ hard news posts rather than the usual personal posts. The effect was felt most by occasional Facebook users who reported in a survey they paid more attention to the government because of their friends’ hard news feeds. Facebook didn’t tell users about this psychology experiment, but it boosted voter turnout by 3 percent.

The experiment was first shared with the public in two talks given by Facebook’s data scientist, Lada Adamic, in the fall of 2012, and more details were disclosed recently by Mother Jones. In those talks, Adamic said a colleague at Facebook, Solomon Messing, “tweaked” the feeds. Afterwards, Messing surveyed the group and found that voter turnout and political engagement grew from a self-reported 64 percent to more than 67 percent.
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