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Facebook Experimented On You Back In 2012

Facebook scientists caught up in intrusion claims


Ever wondered whether social media posts make you happy or sad? No? Well tough because Facebook launched an experiment that potentially could have involved you back in 2012 on this question. Hundreds of thousands of people had their news feeds manipulated by the social media giants for one week in 2012.

Facebook privacy news
Source: techcrunch.com

Facebook started to intentionally post upbeat messages on some users' feeds and sombre posts on others. The intrusive experiment was set up to test your mood, and it involved a bunch of ‘Facebook scientists’ who packed nearly 700,000 news feeds with either a load of positive content or more depressingly a host of negative content. The experiment showed that the users who were fed more positive content were more likely to post happier messages themselves, whilst the negative posts were also contagious.

Bridget Carey who is a senior editor with CNET.com said that because none of the participants gave consent in the study, she believes there is an ethical issue.

“You have to worry about what that means going forward,” she said. “Are advertisers going to take advantage of that serving up ads for you if you are feeling a little blue.”

Zuckerberg’s army of Facebook spies and scientists say that the actions are covered in their data use policy, and that whilst they carry out research on a regular basis to improve the sites content, they never collect information that is not relevant to their studies.

One of the researchers who works for Facebook released a statement in regards to the study: “My coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety caused in hindsight; the research benefit may not have justified all of this anxiety.

The results of the ethically questionable study were published this month in the Journal Science, and it was all part of a psychological study Facebook conducted with researchers at Cornell and the University of California, San Francisco.

Facebook privacy news
Source: mashable.com
Facebook may experience a backlash by users who are conscious about privacy, as this is a clear act of intrusion by the social media firm. When creating a profile, people are willingly displaying their lives online, so to a degree it is hard to argue that Facebook is in the wrong, but at the same time, if any firm is involving real people in any kind of research, consent must be given.

As a result of this research, advertisers may see an opportunity to target people dependent on the mood they are in, and at this rate, we will find ourselves in a heavily observed society, which is manipulated by big business. That sounds awfully like what we live in right now actually.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Facebook Experimented On You Back In 2012 Reviewed by Alex Smith on Tuesday, July 01, 2014 Rating: 5
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