Facebook undertakes pointless experiment, manipulates 689,000 users.


The Guardian today reported on Facebook’s scandalous manipulation of hundreds of thousands of users’ emotions as part of an experiment. Needless to say, there has been an uproar – and rightly so. Just the lack of informed consent – or is that in the small print somewhere? – makes the flesh crawl.

It would be interesting to know how they measured the emotions they manipulated – entirely by the ‘how are you feeling’ function of a status update or by something more subtle? Will the results eventually be published? Will those people so manipulated be, after the fact, informed of their participation.

Another salient point, I think, is that this kind of experiment is entirely unnecessary – countless prior experiments into emotional contagion have been undertaken and, while certainly not in this medium or on this scale, the results are, predictably, the same.

 

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