Without Users' Consent, Facebook Conducted Emotional Experiments

Details have just emerged of how Facebook carried out an experiment that intentionally manipulated the emotions of some 700,000 of its users in January of 2012, allegedly without the consent of users.

What's the Latest?


Details have just emerged of how Facebook carried out an experiment that intentionally manipulated the emotions of some 700,000 of its users in January of 2012. By altering users' newsfeed content according to emotional markers--some were given more negative news stories while others received more upbeat current events--Facebook determined "that people with less positivity in their Feeds began showing more negativity, and vice versa." Meanwhile, users fed news stories with less emotional but more factual content grew quieter, posting fewer status updates. 

What's the Big Idea?

While an earlier experiment conducted by Facebook observed how the emotional content of status updates is "contagious" in patterns that resemble a spreading virus, the company's latest actions reveal how it purposefully changed what its users saw and read. How is this legal, you ask? The lengthy users' agreement signed (abruptly) when an individual creates an account constitutes informed consent, even though the agreement is far too long for the casual reader and important details are couched in legal jargon. Shockingly, Forbes reports that the user agreement was changed four months after the experiment was conducted in an attempt to legalize the company's behavior.

Read more at Fast Company

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Technology & Innovation
  • About 3.1 million individuals could lose their job to self-driving cars.
  • A.I. is not a monolith. It makes a lot of mistakes.
  • To better understand how to navigate our economic future, we should pay attention to these mistakes.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

NYTimes exposé reveals how Facebook handled scandals

Delay, deny and deflect were the strategies Facebook has used to navigate scandals it's faced in recent years, according to the New York Times.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
  • It outlines how senior executives misled the public and lawmakers in regards to what it had discovered about privacy breaches and Russian interference in U.S. politics.
  • On Thursday, Facebook cut ties with one of the companies, Definers Public Relations, listed in the report.
Keep reading Show less