Odd: I get this weird blinding headache whenever I even think about criticizing Facebook for conducting a psychological experiment on unsuspecting users.
Okay, so arguably it’s not that much different from A/B testing. It’s still a little unnerving to think that Facebook might be able to tweak its algorithm with affect user emotions — perhaps opening it up to FDA regulation as a mood-altering drug.
It’s probably the most disturbing for those of us who read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire at an impressionable age:
The Mule is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov‘s Foundation series. One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and “adjust” their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause. (From Wikipedia)
Fortunately, we’re a long ways from that. And even if we weren’t, I’m sure it would never occur to Facebook’s leadership that they could, say, subtly suppress voter motivation in a few key districts and thereby subvert entire elections. (You’re welcome, conspiracy theorists!)