Facebook conducted a secret social experiment on 689,003 of its user accounts. See here for a copy of the study (pdf).
The 2012 study’s findings were published on 17 June 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This is the one that finally got me. That’s it, I’m out of there!
In January 2012, in a week-long experiment, a Facebook data scientist and university researchers manipulated the news feeds of 689,003 random Facebook users, without their knowledge.
Certain user’s news feeds were deliberately supplied with a disproportionate amount of positive or negative content. Positive content caused users to respond less negatively. Conversely, the viewing of more negative content caused less positive reactions from users.
This is just the latest installment in a long string of mostly privacy related violations and it has resulted in widespread outrage amongst Facebook users. Nearly every year since the launch of Facebook in 2004, there has been some new revelation about the greedy and rapacious methods employed to glean and utilize the “private” data of it’s users for profit.
It is abundantly clear that Facebook has a rather fast and loose concept of “user privacy.” Each successive violation of users’ privacy has reinforced this idea, and revealed new ways that Facebook is trampling on user trust and goodwill, again.
Many straws were added to this camels back, each incrementally pushing the boundaries of users’ privacy concerns. Some of these stand out:
2010 — Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) identified two personal information aggregation techniques called “connections” and “instant personalization,” a pilot program which shared Facebook information with affiliated sites. The program enabled access by anyone to information saved to a Facebook profile, even if the information was intended to be kept private.
2014 — Facebook is the defendant in a class action lawsuit in the the Northern District Court of California for allegedly violating its members’ right to privacy. Facebook is being sued by members who claim the company intercepts users’ private messages, without their consent, and that Facebook mines this data for profit.
2014 — A study is published of a secret social experiment conducted by Facebook in 2012 on 689003 of its user accounts, without their knowledge. Facebook has demonstrated that it has the capacity to secretly alter the emotional temperature of it’s users. This Orwellian turn of events was the final straw, for me anyway.