Facebook Researchers Toy With Emotions: Wake Up - InformationWeek

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6/30/2014
01:05 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Facebook Researchers Toy With Emotions: Wake Up

A study about the effect of posts on Facebook users' emotions outraged some people. I call it a public service: Now you understand what ill-informed consent means.

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

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RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 1:41:18 PM
Parody
Facebook's practices aside, Prof. Grimmelmann does parody well. Academia is the last bastion of "treating people with dignity and serving the common good"? Except when there's grant money or tenure on the line, or someone forwards a POV that's not in line with the orthodoxy.   

 
cafzali
IW Pick
50%
50%
cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 1:50:08 PM
isn't it interesting
The ethics of Facebook's moves aside, isn't it interesting how people will willfully spill their guts out on Facebook -- including putting lots of things that don't make them look that good, whether or not they realize it at the time -- but then get all perturbed when Facebook essentially creates a "mood index" for the content they provide? 

To me, this whole thing could be solved relatively easily if people would be just a bit more judicious in terms of what they share with the world. And, odds are, their friends would thank them as well because they likely don't want to read all of that either. 
anon9374167803
100%
0%
anon9374167803,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 1:58:05 PM
Inaccurate statement
"The researchers altered the News Feeds of 689,003 Facebook users by removing all positive posts or all negative posts to gauge the effect on people's moods."

 

That is incorrect.  Each emotionally charged post had a 10%-90% chance of being removed, depending on user ID.
Thomas Claburn
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0%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:07:17 PM
Re: Inaccurate statement
Thanks, I'll get that corrected.
Lorna Garey
0%
100%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:19:08 PM
EXACTLY
Thank you - spot on analysis. And, may I add, that data scientist's non-apology is great as well. Nice use of the English language to basically say, "Get over yourselves, morons. What did you THINK we were doing?"
Shane M. O'Neill
100%
0%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:42:59 PM
Violation of user trust -- or what's left of it
I would say that Facebook should have been more transparent about what they were doing -- i.e. tell people about the "experiment" and let them accept or decline being part of it. But if people knew what was happening, their emotions wouldn't have been manipulated, now would they.

But this is still a breach of user trust. If you're intentionally not giving people the news feed they should be getting and not telling them, that's a violation. It warrants the bad PR and online outrage. But it will pass. Makes me glad I hid most of the people in my Facebook network and now use the site as a RSS news feed.
H@mmy
50%
50%
[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 4:01:38 PM
Re: Violation of user trust -- or what's left of it
Being a user of Facebook, I am sad to read this. Sadly its legal too as written in their terms and conditions. Surely violation of user trust.
Thomas Claburn
100%
0%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 4:51:32 PM
Re: Violation of user trust -- or what's left of it
>But this is still a breach of user trust.

This could have been handled better but it's hypocritical for anyone in the press to point fingers. Emotional manipulation is the lifeblood of the news business. The news biz maxim "if it bleeds, it leads" exists precisely because headlines can push emotional buttons. 
Shane M. O'Neill
50%
50%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 5:13:51 PM
Re: Violation of user trust -- or what's left of it
That's a fair point. Though I'd argue sensationalized headlines are not as devious as what Facebook did. The reader can at least find out pretty quickly if they've been duped just by reading the story. But it's the same principle.  
pcharles09
100%
0%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 6:12:11 PM
Re: Violation of user trust -- or what's left of it
There should be an app that scans headlines & finds the associated Snopes link, if it exists.
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