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New York Times Opinion Piece on Facebook – EffectCheck

New York Times Opinion Piece on Facebook

By April 8, 2018Case Studies

Recent revelations that Facebook user’s personal data have been used in ways that the users did not expect or consent to has generated significant pressure on the company. Facebook’s stock price has dropped in the past two weeks and opinion pieces have not been flattering. Here, I use EffectCheck to analyze an opinion piece from the New York Times that appeared on March 19, 2018.


The New York Times editorial board complained in its piece that Facebook has not been proactive at protecting its users’ data, nor in alerting users in a timely matter of issues, nor of implementing solutions to these problems once identified. Overall, in the category of Opinion Letters, EffectCheck score the Times’ piece as:

Figure 1. Overall lexical impact of the New York Times’ opinion article on Facebook.

Of note, the piece evokes low confidence and low happiness. This is observed more closely in a 100-word moving window analysis:

Figure 2. 100-word moving window analysis of lexically evoked confidence and happiness in the New York Times’ opinion article.

Clearly, the opinion evokes mostly low confidence and happiness throughout the entire 600+ word article, with evoked confidence rising into the close; however, this evoked confidence is associated with the Times’ solution that Congress needs to “strengthen” our laws and give Facebook users more “control.” That is, the confidence that is being evoked is not associated in context with Facebook but rather with government.  This is made plain in the line “But it is clear that lawmakers cannot rely on the company to police itself.”


This brief EffectCheck examination of the New York Times op-ed from March 19, 2018 highlights the publicity issues that Facebook is facing, as well as the emotional state of the public that the company will need to address going forward.

Bradley Keller

Author Bradley Keller

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