Facebook Mines User Data To Measure U.S. Moods

Facebook has mined user data from their social network and produced a graphical representation of the collective happiness of Facebook’s millions of U.S. users.

Facebook analyzed information from their database of user updates and scanned for words indicating a particular mood of happy or sad and correlated the updates to the day they were posted.

Analysis of the Facebook profile updates showed that holidays tend to make people feel happy and celebrity deaths make people sad.

Facebook noted that Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the happiest days for profile updates, while the deaths of Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson ranked among the saddest for user updates.

Although these findings seem pretty obvious, Facebook’s collection and analysis of users’ “mood demographics” could become more useful with years of data mining — especially when this information is associated with economic indicators.

However, Facebook’s data mining of user updates makes some people wonder if it is a good idea for large social networks to use personal profile updates for demographic research.

If you publish personal data on the Facebook social network, no matter how private your profile settings are, Facebook.com can still save it, mine it, analyze it and use it for their own purposes.

Some people feel that Facebook’s so-called “Gross National Happiness” indicator is Orwellian and intrusive.

Mint, a personal finance site, also mines uers data and runs this type of information analysis. The company tracks and analyzes millions of bank and credit card accounts that its users input for personal finance purposes in order to rank the most frugal urban areas as well as geographic wealth distribution.

Regardless of privacy concerns, the trend among many social networks and web 2.0 sites will be to mine user data and analyze the information for business, social, market and maybe even political purposes.

Source: LA Times