We've known for a while that social media has the ability to affect our mood, but the intensity of it was unknown until now.
New research claims that content posted on Facebook has the ability to spread mass positivity or negativity among its users, almost instantly. The terms used to explain this large-scale spread of emotions are wildfire and virus, meaning that Facebook's influence over netizens has reached unprecedented levels.
The findings are the result of a study by social scientists at Cornell, the University of California, San Francisco, who used 689,003 random users as samples for their social experiment. Their observations concluded that emotions shared via sites like Facebook greatly influence the frame of mind of others.
It works both ways too, meaning that when the content's tempo was changed to positive, the targeted audience became upbeat about things in their actual lives, and vice versa.
"People who had positive content experimentally reduced on their Facebook news feed, for one week, used more negative words in their status updates," reports Jeff Hancock, professor of communication at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and co-director of its Social Media Lab.
"When news feed negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred: Significantly more positive words were used in peoples’ status updates."
Another startling finding of the study is that those Facebook users who were exposed to fewer emotional posts in their news feed were less expressive overall in the next few days.
The findings also put to bed the baseless digital belief that all Facebook posts, even the negative ones, cause adverse affect on the morale and mood of its audience.
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