Opinion

Please Advise! Facebook Controls My Emotions

Spinmeister Steve fans the flames of social media's most insidious conspiracies.

By Steve Burgess 3 Jul 2014 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor's Note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Sometimes I feel happy. Sometimes I feel blue. Is this Facebook's fault?

Signed,

Blue

Dear Blue,


Yes! Good for you -- you're on to them.

Once upon a time humanity possessed free will. Now we have Facebook instead.

The social network's surreptitious agenda was recently confirmed when details of a 2012 study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study demonstrated that by removing a certain number of positive or negative messages from users' Facebook feeds, those users were motivated to use slightly more positive or negative words in their own posts -- roughly one extra positive or negative word per thousand, on average.

To put it another way: if Facebook told you "Go forth and kill at random," you would be helpless to resist.

Life and death

In the wake of this revelation, people are being urged to shut down their Facebook accounts. Privacy activist Lauren Weinstein tweeted: "I wonder if Facebook KILLED anyone with their emotion manipulation stunt?" (The death toll from Weinstein's tweet has not been determined either.)

If you joined Facebook to keep up with friends, share photos and watch short videos of cats or goats singing the Game of Thrones theme, you will of course have to forgo those perks. But on the upside, you will no longer dwell in a fascist mind-prison ruled by Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook and other social media channels run research experiments frequently. Most are aimed at increasing ad revenue. Indirectly they are also hoping you will purchase more lip balm from their advertisers, as this will encourage more advertising and thus more revenue.

Under such tyranny, why keep up the fiction that we exercise free will? Do you really believe that your recent decision to visit Speedy Auto Glass for a windshield chip repair was truly your own choice? Wake up, social media sheeple!

It's been pointed out that this particular study was more scientific than mercenary -- an exercise in examining our response to positive and negative stimuli, rather than an attempt to figure out how to squeeze more clicks out of us.

That just makes it all the more disturbing. If it had no obvious financial motive, the study can only be part of Facebook's larger mind control agenda. Click the "like" button on despotism and enforced groupthink. Now, minion.

Terms of servitude

There's also a question of manners here. Facebook did not let study subjects know they were participating -- they just used the blanket authorization granted by the terms of service agreement. Rather creepy, most of us seem to agree.

But let's not get distracted by minor issues of etiquette. This is about something bigger. The people who faked the moon landing are messing with your head again.

Recent legal decisions in the U.S. and Europe have curtailed the ability of giants like Google to collect and retain data.

Or so they would like you to think. But behind the thin tissue of our court systems and constitutionally mandated freedoms, marketers are mapping each neuron of your grey matter and numbering them for easy access. If your next Jays or Lions hat isn't made out of tinfoil, you are leaving yourself wide open.

A conspiracy for everyone

What's most inspiring about the paranoid mindset is how it brings people together -- Tea Party nutcases, basement-dwelling potheads, people who think they can get out of traffic tickets by declaring themselves sovereign nations, guys who watched The Matrix about 16 times too many, and regular moms and dads, all united in battling the malevolent power of Big Internet Brother.

Who you are is not important. What's important is that you hang onto the narrative that powerful forces are jerking you around like a puppet.

You have no personal agency. You are a pawn -- a pawn of government, of multinational corporations, of the all-embracing tentacles of social media. Unless you close your Facebook account you will never breathe the sweet air of liberty. You will spend your sad life under the thumb of the Man.

At the very least, you might end up buying a few extra boxes of gluten-free crackers you didn't really need. Rise up, citizen! Save yourself!  [Tyee]

Read more: Rights + Justice,

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