Only Facebook’s ill-advised intentional manipulation of users’ emotions could top the academic excitement generated in 2014 by an otherwise dry study that happened to catch fire thanks to a very snarky author comment.

The Facebook paper, Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks, dug into the social network’s attempts to surreptitiously engineer the way people feel about things based on the sentiment of posts that appeared in their feeds. Facebook had monkeyed with nearly 700,000 of its users, selectively giving them either negative or positive stories and then measuring their emotions. Today, according to The Guardian, it was reported to have been the most-shared scientific paper of the year by Altmetric, which measures the reach of academic research.

Yet despite having tweaked those nearly 700,000 people’s emotions, and getting called out by hundreds of fevered news articles and thousands of people worldwide, the Facebook study only barely beat out — for global attention, at least — a competing study entitled “Variation in Melanism and Female Preference in Proximate but Ecologically Distinct Environments.” That research would almost certainly have escaped the world’s notice, but for one small oversight: One of the authors inadvertently — or was it? — neglected to remove a key question about some questionable source material: “Should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?”

In a brief synopsis, Facebook’s authors, Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffrey Hancock, concluded that via their “massive” experiment, “emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.”

When news of the study broke last June, it instantly generated widespread anger and derision. Though it was almost certainly legal, it was just as certainly creepy.

Facebook quickly apologized for the study, which was conducted in 2012. Still, more than 300 news articles, 130 blog posts, 3,801 tweets, 342 Facebook posts, and 14 Reddit posts excoriated Facebook for having secretly messed with its users.

But in terms of total reach, all that outrage only marginally surpassed the interest in the “Variation in Melanism” paper and its “crappy Gabor” comment.

Without much additional work, it’s hard to know whether the so-called Gabor paper was truly crappy. Even if it was, Wiley, the publisher of the “Variation in Melanism” paper, was red-faced and removed the comment. But not before thousands of people picked up on the brutal honesty, mostly driven by a story in Retraction Watch.

The question is, with Facebook’s experiment having touched the lives of almost 700,000 people, and the “crappy Gabor paper” comment affecting almost no one, why weren’t more people incensed by Zuckerberg & Company trying to meddle in our emotions?

Or maybe it’s just that people secretly love it when they get to unexpectedly witness the kind of honesty that we usually keep to ourselves.

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