It has been about a week since the Facebook-gate story broke out on the company engaging in a social science experiment, and as far as major news outlets are concerned we’re all still up and arms about it.
At first I was all “ewwww Facebook is gross for conducting experiments on the users” and all that popular sentiment that follows “fight the power!” - or anything popular - movement. However, I actually feel rather neutral on the matter.
First of all, no one is paying for the service that Facebook provides, and it’s a service that’s rather good… Otherwise there wouldn’t have been a public offering for the company if it wasn’t something that the majority of hairless apes used on a daily basis cataloging their meals and how awesome (or not) their lives are. The unfortunate truth is that you agreed, that’s it. You agreed to take part in a modern social science experiment before it even began. Basically you as a user of Facebook have no legal ground to stomp on.
Another angle is that the experiment that they allowed to be conducted, targeting select users to study mood and behavior based on altered news feeds, while rather disheartening is virtually no different from user testing a new navigation pattern which happens every day and conducted by not only paid services but all good companies. Unfortunately in this case I had to blur the lines of good company practice with mood-affecting-trickery, but at the core of the issue that’s exactly it. If Facebook executives ever had to stand in front of a panel of law abiding citizens and pledged on a piece of honesty-book to tell “the truth and nothing but the truth” they would walk away with their concious intact and probably get a better night sleep than you and I experience on an average night.
Both experiments, navigation pattern testing and user response to positive or negative stimuli, monitor and track and even influence the user behavior to better the product (which ever way that is).
There is only one way to interrupt this process: stop using services that you morally diagree with.
Thanks for reading, until I write stuff & things again, I’ll catch you on the flip side.”