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Facebook manipulating your feelings

 
lowercase baba
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What does anyone think about this?

TL;DR:
There was a period where Facebook purposefully manipulated your feed, giving you more either "positive/happy" messages, or more "negative/sad" messages, to see if they could influence your mood - i.e. make you happier or sadder.

They claim their generic click-through license was "informed consent" - specifically, through this sentence:

“[I]n addition to helping people see and find things that you do and share, we may use the information we receive about you…for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

(source)

I have done various clinical studies. I have read many informed consent forms. They are usually 4-5 pages long, not one word ("research") buried inside a lengthy EULA nobody ever reads.


I was so angry when I heard about this, I pretty much shut down my account. I have un-friended everyone, un-"liked" everything I ever liked, downloaded all my photos, and will soon submit the request to have them permanently delete my profile.
 
Rancher
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The study was possibly co-financed by the US DoD: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/07/01/was-the-department-of-defense-behind-facebooks-controversial-manipulation-study/, or at least one of its main investigators was.
 
Java Cowboy
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fred rosenberger wrote:I was so angry when I heard about this, ...


So, they succeeded in manipulating your feelings....!
 
Bartender
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I was also upset about it, and now it comes out that the CIA may even be involved. Where does it end? I would shut down my account but there are a handful of people that I would not be able to stay in touch with otherwise. I don't like being someone's lab rat without full disclosure, but I doubt that there will be any kind of real investigation into this. Facebook will hide behind their lawyers and we'll have no choice but to either take it or leave it.

What do you suppose would happen if somebody could demonstrate that this study caused someone to lose a job or commit suicide?

Good for you for taking a stand and shutting down your account. I hope you'll tell them why when you submit the final request.

I'd like to see a competing service come along with a friendlier EULA and put Facebook out of business.

 
fred rosenberger
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J. Kevin Robbins wrote:it comes out that the CIA may even be involved.


I'm confused...the only place that article mentions the CIA (that I see) is in the headline, saying "Facebook Proves Itself To Be Another CIA-Managed Media Experiment" - but I don't see where they give any evidence of that. Did I mis-read the article?
 
J. Kevin Robbins
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Here is an interesting explanation of the experiment. I disagree with the authors conclusions, but it's interesting all the same.
 
J. Kevin Robbins
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That article was a poor choice. Check out this one, written several years before we knew about this "research". It gets scarier by the minute. I'm rethinking keeping my account open although it's probably too late. I'm sure I'm already on a government watch list somewhere because of my "likes" and postings.
 
Ulf Dittmer
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There is apparently a good deal more that happened: http://online.wsj.com/articles/facebook-experiments-had-few-limits-1404344378
 
Bartender
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Joke's on Facebook. I don't have any feelings to manipulate.
 
Bartender
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J. Kevin Robbins wrote:That article was a poor choice. Check out this one....


The Guardian article linked to in that article starts:

Tim Hodgkinson (The Guardian) wrote:I despise Facebook


Works for me.
I despised Facebook the first time I heard of it.
Every time I hear news about Facebook it seems like another reason to despise Facebook.
I continue to despise Facebook.
So at least they're not manipulating my feelings.

PS: The BBC's Radio 4 reported today that Facebook has 1.4 billion active accounts. So I guess somebody likes them then.
 
author & internet detective
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Ulf,
I didn't know about the "cancelled" accounts thing. That's horrible. Presumably the users had to give FaceBook information about themselves to prove they were real. And we know how good FaceBook is with holding your data...
 
Ranch Hand
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Facebook is not free. They already collect so much info openly. Its no surprise that they also surreptitiously gather info about you. So, I suggest that you use it only to stay in touch with your friends. Divulge as little info as possible, but please don't get the tinfoil hat out.

 
chris webster
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Here's a good piece on the question of scientific ethics around this:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/jul/01/facebook-cornell-study-emotional-contagion-ethics-breach

 
Sheriff
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I've found that today's XKCD matches my feelings about this matter almost exactly:

 
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