UK Launches Investigation into Facebook’s Emotional Experiment

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Facebook's experiment into what happens when to subscriber's moods when their timelines were manipulated to gauge their emotional state has caught the eye of UK regulators. The country's Information Commissioner's Office has started an investigation into Facebook's 2012 experiment to determine whether or not any laws were broken and if fines that could reach £500,000 should be imposed.

UK launches an investigation into Facebook's emotion experimentUK launches an investigation into Facebook's emotion experiment

News of the experiment surfaced in late June when researchers released the results of their efforts. The study results showed Facebook users who were exposed to primarily negative posts tended to be more negative themselves, and users who saw positive posts were more positive, too.

While Facebook contends it didn't do anything wrong, it also agreed to cooperate with the ICO investigation, according to the Financial Times.

"It's clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it," said Richard Allen, Facebook's Director of Policy for Europe. "We want to do better in the future and are improving our process based on this feedback."

The company stopped short of apologizing for manipulating subscriber's post streams without their knowledge.

The ICO is currently looking into how much personal information was used in the Facebook experiment, and which laws would apply to the company's actions. So far there haven't been any charges filed against the company, nor has the ICO said which laws it thinks Facebook may have broken.

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Comments

skipaq

What exactly was the reason for this “study”? Anyone with an ounce of knowledge knows that you can impact the emotional state of a person. Did they not realize that some people live at the edge of emotional well being? Just who do they think they are playing around with other people’s lives? They should be fined hard and told to stay out of things that only qualified mental health experts in controlled settings should deal with.

aardman

Facebook thinks there is nothing ethically objectionable in what they did when they basically sent a dishonest, emotionally manipulative stream of posts, to a set of people whom Facebook unilaterally decided can serve as their guinea pigs.  Oh I’m pretty confident they broke no statutes, and they think that’s where their ethical responsibility ends.

Further proof again that Facebook is run by a bunch of sociopath perpetual adolescents whose actions are guided not by what is right or wrong but what they can and cannot get away with.

Lee Dronick

  Further proof again that Facebook is run by a bunch of sociopath perpetual adolescents whose actions are guided not by what is right or wrong but what they can and cannot get away with.

And their horrid algorithm of what is shown on your Newsfeed. Today, my family had exciting news, hardly any my friends saw it. I posted a follow up and almost everyone saw that. I told them to go to my wall to see the photos, some could and some could not. I reposted the photos and friends are seeing them and commentong. Facebook is killing the goose that lays their golden eggs, I and others are looking for a new place.

Now for the family news. Today my nephew became the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, Region 2. He is responsible for the Marines guarding the Embassies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ceylon, India, and those on the Arabian Penisula.

furbies

Lee, here’s to your nephew staying safe, and returning home when his tour finishes.

Lee Dronick

Thank you Furbies.

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