Facebook Just Messed With Your Head And You're Still Going Back For More

Perhaps Facebook is conducting a meta-experiment. The first part of it was the emotional contagion experiment we covered yesterday, wherein Facebook manipulated close to 700,000 users’ emotions via their Newsfeeds without any apparent knowledge, consent, or reasonable ethical oversight.

The real experiment, though, might just be that Facebook wants to know how far it can push users before they actually quit using the social network.

I’m being facetious here, but in all seriousness, after the outrage so many felt after yesterdays’ news, how many people actually quit Facebook because of it? I’m guessing almost none, and that highlights something extremely interesting about our collective relationship with the social network: We’ll never quit.

Facebook Lab Rat

If that’s the case, then Facebook has become as deeply embedded into our lives as pay TV, driving a car, owning a smartphone, and other services and activities that we’ve come to see as essential. What that means is that we’ll most likely stick with Facebook no matter what, which gives Facebook an extraordinary amount of power over us.

That’s not to say no one leaves nor that at some point we’ll collectively start leaving in droves; we’ve seen that happen to the likes of pay TV with throngs cord cutters, many people deciding to bike everywhere instead of owning a car, and so on, but for those things to happen there must be both a tipping point and a reasonable alternative.

For example, in the case of the pay TV juggernaut, the tipping point is that prices have gotten ridiculously high for a product that isn’t as compelling as it used to be while the reasonable alternative is the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

In Facebook’s case, the site isn’t as popular with teens as it is with adults, so we may see Facebook die off slowly by attrition, and there are other social media sites that are compelling for users, such as Instagram (Oh wait, Facebook owns Instagram) and Twitter. For the time being, though, it seems we’ve given Facebook free reign over our lives.

This is a serious question: Did anyone ditch Facebook over the emotional contagion experiment? (And if not, what offense could Facebook commit that would make you leave?)