Facebook ‘Apologizes’ for Toying With Users’ Emotions

Facebook ‘Apologizes’ for Toying With Users’ Emotions Photo (cc) by marcopako 

Facebook is sorry (kind of) for conducting a psychological experiment on 700,000 unsuspecting Facebook users.

The emotional contagion study involved tweaking Facebook users’ newsfeeds for one week in January 2012. The goal was to see how reducing the number of positive or negative posts in users’ newsfeeds could impact the content they themselves posted. If a person’s newsfeed was filled with negative posts and content, the user was more likely to post negative content, and vice versa for positive content.

In other words, your mood can change depending on what you are seeing on Facebook.

“Facebook’s data scientists and researchers found that emotional states can be transmitted between people without face-to-face interaction,” said Time.

The study was published in the March issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When word of the study hit the (Internet) street, many Facebook users were understandably outraged.

Sure, the psychological experiment is most likely legal. In Facebook’s current terms of service, users relinquish the use of their data for “data analysis, testing, [and] research.” But the question remains: Is it ethical? It’s one thing to observe users’ data. It’s an entirely different issue when you intentionally and secretly manipulate their behavior.

The social networking company responded publicly Wednesday. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg offered an apology of sorts.

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

Notice that Sandberg didn’t actually apologize for Facebook conducting a study intended to manipulate people’s emotions.

Forbes added:

Translation: Facebook is not sorry for doing the emotion contagion study. It was done in the normal course of business. It is sorry that everyone is upset about the fact that it purposely made some users upset a couple years ago.

What do you think of Sandberg’s apology on behalf of Facebook? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Popular Articles

6 Tips to Age-Proof Your Resume
6 Tips to Age-Proof Your Resume

Finding a job isn’t easy — and it sometimes feels like too much experience actually counts against you. These tips will help.

How All 50 States Tax Your Retirement Income
How All 50 States Tax Your Retirement Income

Find out which states are friendly, and not-so friendly, with the money you’ll need in your later years.

7 Reasons You Should Rent a Home in Retirement
7 Reasons You Should Rent a Home in Retirement

Renting is a better fit than owning for many retirees. Here’s how it can pay off during your golden years.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Trending Stories

Comments

894 Active Deals

More Deals