Facebook admit wrongdoing over recent unethical study

Facebook came under fire earlier this year as it was caught out for undertaking a controversial experiment with people’s newsfeeds, altering what they could see online. Now, the social media giant has said that it will change the way it conducts research in the future.

In 2012, the site manipulated what people would see on their news feed for a week, to see how they reacted to different emotional stimuli. The aim was to see if it affected how and what people would post themselves.

The site was caught out for manipulating information and, crucially, people’s emotional states.

As a result of this scandal, Facebook have announced that they will introduce new guidelines and training, to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen again, and that employees understand how they should conduct themselves when running experiments.

The company didn’t comment whether they would ask permission to undertake studies in the future, but if they did, then this could impede any results they collect. For example, if people knew in advance that Facebook were going to change the emotions they were exposed to in order to gauge if their posts changed, they wouldn’t post naturally in response to these emotions because they would be aware of the manipulation.

Furthermore, it was highlighted that Facebook didn’t actually apologise for what it did, which people have said implies they show no regret for their actions. At the end of the day, a huge portion of Facebook’s revenue is now generated through advertisement, and so information regarding how their users act and react is hugely important to them.

Whether they inform people or not, it is unlikely Facebook will pull a stunt similar to what they did before in order to avoid the huge media backlash they got for it, and either way, people are not going to stop using the world’s most popular social network.