Facebook published a study that indicated it was fooling around with newsfeeds to its users (unbeknownst to those users) to determine whether its scientists could affect users’ emotions with positive and negative news. The problem is that the 700,000 users who were the subjects in the 2012 one-week study were unaware that they were part of the experiment. Those users are fit to be tied, as are government regulators in Britain and Ireland. However, COO Sheryl Sandberg of “Lean In” book and foundation fame, has some reassuring words, “We clearly communicated really badly about this, and that we really regret. We do research in an ongoing way, in a very privacy-protective way, to improve our services, and that was done with this goal.”
Some questions for Facebook users about this statement:
1. Does Facebook regret the experiment or the bad communication?
2. Does the statement mean that research will be ongoing?
3. What the heck is a privacy-protective way?
4. Does this mean that all research to improve services is okay?
But, don’t worry, Facebook’s director of policy in Europe says that they will “do better in the future” and that they are “improving their processes.” Sounds like Facebook will continue to experiment away. As one Internet expert uttered years ago — You have no privacy on the Internet. Get over it and get used to it.
‘Tis a brave new world we have leaned ourselves into.