Did you have a Facebook account in 2012? If so you may have, without your knowledge, been a test subject for a psychological study.
The company routinely adjusts the user’s newsfeed with the number and type of ads they see, size of photos, etc. for the sake of creating a better product. However, this is not what we are talking about here. In 2012, Adam D.I. Kramer led a study in which nearly 700,000 test subjects (Facebook users) were given either additional negative posts or additional positive posts in their individual newsfeeds via algorithm. This was allegedly done to see how the positive or negative nature of the additional posts would affect the tone of the posts of the test subjects.
Unfortunately, none of the test subjects were notified of this. In fact, this study only recently came to light.
Facebook users must agree to the terms of service when they sign up for an account. The company says that users consent to such activity by agreeing to the terms of service. Personally, the Facebook TOS appears to be vague at best. This has sparked an outrage among the Facebook community, and rightfully so. The company may have not crossed any legal lines, but they have certainly crossed ethical boundaries.
As a Facebook user, I find this practice deplorable. A person normally has to give consent to be the test subject of a psychological study. With the issue of bullies on Facebook being such a hot topic, I wonder what impact this additional negativity in their newsfeed had on some users? Is there a suicide victim out there? Was a user driven to drink or use drugs due to the additional negativity?
Facebook users are not guinea pigs. We are human beings made up of intricate emotions, and if we are to take part in a psychological study, we should be asked…and paid. By the way, where’s my check for this? Just sayin’…
You can read the entire news story here: