This weekend, the Internet discovered a study published earlier this month in an academic journal that recounted how a Facebook data scientist, along with two university researchers, turned 689,003 users’ New Feeds positive or negative to see if it would elate or depress them, Forbes reports.
The purpose was to find out if emotions are “contagious” on social networks. (They are, apparently.) The justification for subjecting unsuspecting users to the psychological mind game was that everyone who signs up for Facebook agrees to the site’s “Data Use Policy,” which has a little line about how your information could be used for “research.” Some people are pretty blase about the study, their reaction along the lines of, “Dude. Facebook and advertisers manipulate us all the time. NBD.” Others, especially in the academic environment, are horrified that Facebook thinks that the little clause in the 9,045-word ToS counts as “informed consent” from a user to take part in a psychological experiment, and that an ethics board reportedly gave that interpretation a thumbs up. The larger debate is about what companies can do to their users without asking them first or telling them about it after.
See this story on www.forbes.com