Facebook is not "interfering" with my communications. They are PROVIDING me with a means of communications. If I don't like their means, I am free to resort to other ones, phone calls, written letters, smoke signals, etc.
Your comparison to the NSA is entirely foolish. The NSA, as a government entity, is not opt-in. I would be outraged if the NSA seized my private communication against my will. And I would have no resource against them. I cannot stop paying them. If I try, someone throws me in a cage.
Meanwhile, if I am dissatisfied with Facebook, all I have to do is stop using it. If enough people are dissatisfied, Facebook employees will start losing their jobs. Mark Zuckerberg would see his net worth reduced to near-zero.
I understand the world is run by corrupt liars. What I don't understand is why you don't think them interfering with your communication to private ppl in your personal life is an outrage.
Imagine you are dating the woman of your dreams and you send her a text. It gets intercepted by the NSA and changed into a crass insult and she dumps you. wtf is wrong with you? this experiment is as corrupt as an information service can get, the only question left is magnitude, for example !$%*!$%* with happy/sad vs. telling your wife you are cheating on her. knowledge is power. intentionally tinkering with ppl's communication is stuff hitler would do.
I saw this recently. Facebook deliberately filtered news and posts with "happy" words to some users and news and posts with "sad" words to other users to see what would happen. Upon reading that I recalled a study (not by facebook themselves) from late last year that claimed using facebook in general tended to make people more sad.
I wonder if they tried this on me. Statistically, the odds are against it, but in roughly that time frame, I got the impression that Facebook was a massive downer and all my friends and families ever had to saw was whiny depressing stuff, and I mostly quit using Facebook. I figured that the economy had some sort of "tipping point" effect on people I knew and they were just starting to get cranky.
On a perhaps-unrelated tangent, has anyone noticed that the country seems to be ramping up the hate to ridiculous levels? We seem to have increasing levels of inter-generational hate, racial hate, gender hate, religious hate, occupation and education hate (STEM and Humanities, anyone?), socioeconomic hate, technology hate, and undoubtedly many more...
I have been thinking this is just a side affect of "vastly expanded communication" a la social networking, or perhaps our culture exhibiting some temporary lag in adopting it. But it suddenly seems plausible that it might be a less organic, and more engineered thing.
The political applications are obvious enough -- incumbents would want voters to feel good, challengers would prefer gloom and doom. And "suggested posts" can channel the stimulated mood towards a desired vote or contribution. But think beyond that:
An insurance company could seek to depress targeted customers, maybe supporting that with a lot of grisly accidents in the "related stories" and "trending" boxes.
Entertainment and luxury businesses might pay to goose their target audiences into a happy spending mood at key times of the year, or to counter customer caution.
Drug manufacturers might induce mood swings in known patients, creating a need for increased dosages.
With fine tuning, Facebook and other media might be able to induce fairly specific moods -- anxiety over appearance, financial overconfidence, mistrust of consumer watchdogs -- with a precision and power far beyond the visible blunt instrument approach of traditional mass media.* And the scary thing is, this emotional manipulation can be delivered by what is perceived to be a neutral medium (already, websites feature "around the web" features that aren't obviously sponsored, creating the illusion of endorsement and credibility).
* An old British comedy, "The Smallest Show on Earth," had a small cinema that would show only westerns. During the inevitable desert scene, they'd crank up the heat and pause the film to send out the ice cream girl. Television and radio play that basic game without the benefit of thermostat control.