Facebook Social Experiment May Have Violated Academic Research Laws

evolveteam July 7, 2014 0
Facebook illegal study

Privacy regulators in the U.K. and France have been prompted to open inquiries regarding violation of any laws by Facebook. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have deduced that the decision to manipulate the content displayed on the Facebook pages of about 700,000 users without their prior consent may have resulted in violation of any number of principles of academic research.

The journal also noted that being a for-profit company governed by its own terms of service, the social networking site had no obligation whatsoever to adhere to those scientific principles.

Inder Verma, the Washington, D.C. – based editor in chief wrote, “It is nevertheless a matter of concern that the collection of the data by Facebook may have involved practices that were not fully consistent with the principles of obtaining informed consent and allowing participants to opt out.”

The atypical “editorial expression of concern” came to light on Thursday, a day after Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s apology admitting that the world’s largest social network ought to have done a better job of communicating about the experiment.

Facebook recently let researchers manipulate the content appearing on the “news feed”- the main section of the site- of the small fragment of nearly 1.3 billion users of the social networking site.

The study was conducted during one week in January 2012 where the researchers were attempting to collect evidence to prove their thesis that people’s moods were capable of dispersing like an “emotional contagion” based on the material being read by them.

Even though the findings were published a month ago, the experiment didn’t trigger any reaction until very recently when, in the past few days, blogs and essays in The New York Times and The Atlantic raised red flags about people being treated like lab rats without their consent.

The data-use policy of Facebook says that the company can employ use information for “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

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