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Why Facebook has been experimenting on you behind your back

Details emerged Monday about an experiment Facebook conducted on its users without their knowledge and what that means for the future of the social network.
Herb Scribner, Deseret News Modified: June 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm •  Published: July 1, 2014

You may have been used as a test subject in a recent experiment conducted by Facebook and not have noticed.

Last week, the social networking company revealed that it purposefully manipulated statuses people saw on their news feeds, The New York Times reported.

Thousands of users selected at random were shown positive and negative posts as a way for Facebook to conduct a psychological study on its users, Vindu Goel wrote for The Times.

“The company says users consent to this kind of manipulation when they agree to its terms of service,” Goel wrote. “But in the quick judgment of the Internet, that argument was not universally accepted.”

Goel explained that Twitter and Facebook users alike spoke out against the manipulation. It went as far as the study’s leader — Adam D. I. Kramer, a Facebook researcher — issuing an apology on Facebook.

“Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone,” he said in his apology post. “I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

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