EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, filed a formal complaint today with the Federal Trade Commission over Facebook's 'emotional contagion' study.
The experiment was conducted in 2012, and the results have become fodder for viral outrage online this week. Facebook manipulated about 700,000 of its users' newsfeeds, to see if changes could alter the users' emotions. EPIC says Facebook deceived its users and violated the terms of a 2012 FTC consent decree.
1. This complaint concerns Facebook’s secretive and non-consensual use of personal
information to conduct an ongoing psychological experiment on 700,000
Facebook users, i.e. the company purposefully messed with people’s minds. As
set forth in detail below, Facebook altered the News Feeds of Facebook users to
elicit positive and negative emotional responses. Facebook conducted the
psychological experiment with researchers at Cornell University and the
University of California, San Francisco, who failed to follow standard ethical
protocols for human subject research.
2. At the time of the experiment, Facebook did not state in the Data Use Policy that
user data would be used for research purposes. Facebook also failed to inform
users that their personal information would be shared with researchers. Moreover,
at the time of the experiment, Facebook was subject to a consent order with the
Federal Trade Commission which required the company to obtain users’
affirmative express consent prior to sharing user information with third parties.
3. Facebook’s conduct is both a deceptive trade practice under Section 5 of the FTC
Act and a violation of the Commission’s 2012 Consent Order.
4. The Commission should impose sanctions, including a requirement that Facebook
make public the algorithm by which it generates the News Feed for all users.
Here's a copy of the complaint [PDF]
"Facebook manipulation experiment has connections to DoD 'emotional contagion' research"
"Facebook COO: Facebook cannot control emotions of users"
"Facebook's massive psychology experiment likely illegal"
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
You never know when new projects, ideas or opportunities can drop into your lap at a moment’s notice. That may require you to learn a new programming language like Python. Or maybe you need a primer on 3D game development. Or you might realize you could use a serious brush-up on iOS mobile creation.Point is, […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]
In the world of app development, there’s no greater arena to find success than with Android users. About 80% of the smartphones in use today worldwide operate on the Android operating system, so if you build a great app that Android users love, you’re an international rock star. You’ll be able to make sure your […]