Facebook news feed experiment has come up with a lot of fire against the social networking site. However, Facebook has explained the reason for them to do so. The US-based site had reportedly manipulated the data of 700,000 users for a ‘study’ on ‘emotional contagion’.
Facebook News Feed Experiment
The study had, in fact, taken place a couple of years ago, in 2012. It was assisted by Cornell University, and the University of California. It was mentioned in the edition of the 17 June Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research of the Facebook news feed experiment
The research was aimed at checking if reading specific words – positive or negative – in the messages by the users led to them writing positive or negative things in their status updates. And it was proved that users indeed used optimistic or unenthusiastic words as they updated their status.
The research was conducted, alright, and the site also got to come to some conclusion. But the key part in the entire exercise was that the study for news feed experiment was conducted entirely without letting anyone know – especially the users.
The privacy of the users was breached and that’s why Facebook is at the receiving end of the entire exercise now. In fact, the ethical of the nature of these lessons were questioned.
Adam Kramer, who is the data scientist for Facebook wrote a post about these developments, which was reported by The Verge. If you want to see the details of the post, you can read the entire post here.
One key sentence in Kramer’s post was “because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product.”
The data used for the study was in the early days of 2012 and was reportedly used for one week. The News Feed that was used was taken from feeds that had any emotional word. Kramer’s post also says that the posts weren’t hidden, but that they weren’t visible on some News Feeds.
So, what does this Facebook news feed experiment mean? It could probably the fact that the posts were hidden for those News Feeds, which were chosen for experimenting.
Adam Kramer finally adds that the entire study was conducted to offer better services from Facebook. But, how moral does it sound to use users’ data for Facebook news feed experiment without letting them know? What do you think about this? Please leave your views here.