Hundreds of thousands of Facebook users were astonished to discover the social network had been manipulating their emotional state without their awareness as part of a huge ambiguous psychological test.
Scientists working for the social network made users into lab rats for a week in January 2012, to observe if interfering with the posts they looked at when they logged in would alter their feelings.
The research discovered that by causing mayhem with the news feeds of 689,003 users. Researchers could modify the kind of status updates they’d make.
If they were given more negative posts from friends, the users would make more negative status posts, and the other way around.
The research paper, made available in the PNAS journal this week, reads: “Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.”
It’s not an enormous modification, just one-tenth of a percent difference, but that could indicate hundreds of thousands of status updates a day.
Facebook’s terms and conditions, which all users consent to, enable them to carry out research of this sort without communicating with users they’re being experimented on.
The paper states computerized testing: “Was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research. ”
The researchers state they were not in a position to observe specific users posts at any time, and the positive and negative posts were picked automatically.
In a statement, the social network justified the research.
This experimentation was performed for a single week in 2012 and none of the data used was connected with a particular person’s Facebook account.
They did the experimentation to better their services and to make the content people look at on Facebook as applicable and pleasant as conceivable. A large part of that is understanding how people respond to different types of content whether it’s positive or negative in nature. News from friends, or acquired facts from pages they follow. They prudently look upon what investigation they do and have a sturdy internal review method.
For my part, I think it’s a forced entrance of privacy, even if Facebook users had consented it. Also, I grasp that Facebook wants to better its standards on how well the site works, nevertheless, to be used as a lab rat I did not agree to.
It threatens our civil liberties, and our rights… I would say it violates our privacy, however, it’s a social networking site, and consequently everyone can see what we put on there, nevertheless, I don’t like the reality that they can go into our feeds and alter what is really on there.
It would be just like me going on there and hacking into somebody else’s account and modifying what’s on their feed, and that’s just not right. I comprehend that they have not hacked into our accounts, however, on the other hand, it’s our account.
They might own the site, on the other hand, once you have set up an account, even if it is their site, you have opened up an account in your name, which by all intense and purposes indicates that account belongs to you, but the website belongs to them, and that does not give them the right to go into that account and alter what they like.
If they are gaining access to our accounts, as they state, with experimentation intentions, what else are they using our accounts for. I always thought that our personal information was private… but is it, or is it getting into other people’s hands as well?
For me, this is not a trustworthy site to use, and I have taken myself off there, and I know a few other people have, and with hope other people will as well.
I know that networking is extremely dubious, nevertheless, I like to know that when I am on there that my personal information is secure, and not being misrepresented for some fun experimentation…