Isn't it interesting when someone posts a highly positive comment on Facebook and tons of their friends "like" the post and chime in with like-minded comments? Likewise, the same happens with negative comments. This is no coincidence.
A new study published in Plos One on Wednesday by researchers from the University of California at San Diego says that moods on Facebook are contagious. While negative posts definitely beget negative posts, positive posts are apparently more infectious.
"Our study suggests that people are not just choosing other people like themselves to associate with but actually causing their friends' emotional expressions to change," James Fowler, UC San Diego School of Medicine professor and the study's lead author, said in a statement. "We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative."
To get their results, the UC San Diego researchers analyzed more than 1 billion anonymized status updates between more than 100 million US Facebooks users from January 2009 to March 2012. They found that each negative post yielded 1.29 more negative posts from friends, while each positive post yielded 1.75 additional optimistic posts.
While those numbers don't seem huge, they could have an impact when multiplied by hundreds or thousands of people. In the study, the researchers wrote that emotions "might ripple through social networks to generate large-scale synchrony that gives rise to clusters of happy and unhappy individuals."
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While there are most likely people who are annoyed by positive or negative comments but feel compelled to "like" them because their "friends" posted them, this study isn't the first to show that social media influences users' behavior.
Over the years, Facebook has been blamed for depression, isolation, jealousy, and various other types of emotions. A recent study by a Florida State University psychology professor showed that young women felt bad about their looks after comparing themselves with female friends on Facebook.
According to Fowler, understanding emotions on social networks could help fight negative feelings and increase overall public happiness.
"If an emotional change in one person spreads and causes a change in many, then we may be dramatically underestimating the effectiveness of efforts to improve mental and physical health," Fowler said. "We should be doing everything we can to measure the effects of social networks and to learn how to magnify them so that we can create an epidemic of well-being."
Leaked from today's 404 episode:
- Neil Young just destroyed his funding goals for a digital music player on Kickstarter.
- Meet the people making new games for Atari, Super NES, and Virtual Boy.
- Bill O'Reilly bites back at Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns."
Ep. 1443: Where we're taking the couch by storm
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(Credit: Ocearch/Robert Snow)
An intrepid great white shark nicknamed Lydia is off having the journey of a lifetime, and the public is getting to follow along on the unprecedented adventure. She's crossing the Atlantic ocean, but she's not alone. The 14-foot-long shark carries a satellite tracking tag and her movements are constantly updated on the Ocearch Shark Tracker site.
Lydia isn't the first shark to be tracked by Ocearch, a non-profit ocean predator research organization, but she is the first tracked shark to go gallivanting all the way across the Atlantic on a personal cruise. The map of her movements is impressive. She has traveled around 20,000 miles since she was tagged about a year ago.
Lydia's path seems unusually ambitious for a great white. Tracking expedition leader Chris Fischer told the BBC he believes she may be pregnant and gestating her babies. Her ultimate destination could be in the Mediterranean in waters the sharks are known to use as a nursery.
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The tracking technology updates every time her fin gets above the surface of the water, so her whereabouts tend to be updated multiple times throughout any given day.
In order to bring the tracking online, Ocearch had to first tag the animal. She was trapped in waters near Florida, raised onto a platform, and then examined and tagged on her dorsal fin while she was still awake. She was then released to continue on her way.
She is now giving researchers a unique window into the lives of great whites, especially considering her unusual penchant for long trips. If she keeps this up, we're not going to need a bigger boat; we're going to need a bigger ocean.(Credit: Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)
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Google introduced a new feature in its Google Wallet app on Wednesday, to help buyers keep a close eye on their online purchases.
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The new tool for recent online orders pulls its information from receipts found in your Gmail accounts.
In addition to viewing receipts from orders placed through a variety of retailers, Google Wallet will soon also track shipments from "primary package carriers," presumably FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Google also goes the extra step to provide email and phone contacts for the merchants you deal with, if you need to follow-up on a delivery.
Note that the Recent Orders functionality is not enabled by default -- you'll need to first activate the tool under "Track your orders" in the Google Wallet app. In addition, basic package tracking is also available in the Google Now experience.
Package tracking rolls out to both the Android (v. 4.0+, US only) and iOS (v. 6.0+, US only) versions of Google Wallet this week.
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