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Facebook Researchers Toy With Emotions: Wake Up
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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.   

 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 4:46:10 PM
Re: Parody
I agree Rob - If you hadn't said it, I was going to!
cafzali
IW Pick
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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
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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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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:07:17 PM
Re: Inaccurate statement
Thanks, I'll get that corrected.
Lorna Garey
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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?"
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2014 | 3:00:22 PM
Re: EXACTLY
Just wait til we learn the NSA was also involved in the experiment. Mwahaha.
Lorna Garey
IW Pick
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2014 | 3:05:46 PM
Re: EXACTLY
Careful, someone might cite you as a source of info on the NSA's nefarious plot to make Facebook users sad and thus increase sales of Budweiser, which as everyone knows is a front for the FBI.
Shane M. O'Neill
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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
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H@mmy,
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.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 6:33:19 PM
Re: Violation of user trust -- or what's left of it
I'm surprised this study passed the muster of an internal review board (which is required for peer-reviewed academic publishing). My wife has to jump through all kinds of hoops to consent from interview subjects for her research. Seems like if you're going to mess around with people's mental states, you'd need a consent form that isn't buried in a long terms-of-service notice that people don't read and may have clicked an agreement years and years ago.
Thomas Claburn
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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
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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
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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.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2014 | 5:10:28 PM
That was an apology?
Adam Kramer's apology for "all the anxiety the study caused" seems to overlook the fact that most reseasrchers seek the consent of the researched in advance, as opposed to pointing out their aniety after finding themselves the subject of research. Each day the faux apologies -- apologetic sounding words that place blame anywhere but on the apologist -- get a little worse. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2014 | 5:43:42 PM
Re: That was an apology?
Maybe I'm just hopelessly cynical, but you get what you pay for. Facebook isn't maintaining all these data centers out of the goodness of its corporate personhood heart. It's using us and our data. If people don't like that, they can go back to personal phone calls and letters. Gasp!
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2014 | 6:53:15 PM
Re: That was an apology?
Really, was there any real impact from this? Yes it was a breach of trust but it's not as if tilting the New Feed balance from cats videos to reports of accidents and the like caused a spike in suicides. Until there's proof Facebook's experiment did harm, we would be better off working about other proven depressants like drugs and alcohol that do actually play a role in harm.

 
Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
7/2/2014 | 9:30:11 AM
IRB
"Academia may have standards for treating people with dignity and serving the common good,..."

Yes, they're called Institutional Review Boards- IRB's, and were put in place in part because of problems like the Tuskegee study. Look them up.

So a good question to ask is whether and why the University of Michigan's IRB approved this.


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