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Facebook Fallout, Facts and Frenzy 160

redletterdave (2493036) writes Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company's experiment designed to purposefully manipulate the emotions of its users was communicated "poorly". Sandberg's public comments, which were the first from any Facebook executive following the discovery of the one-week psychological study, were made while attending a meeting with small businesses in India that advertise on Facebook. "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was," Sandberg said. "It was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you." anavictoriasaavedra points out this article that questions how much of this outrage over an old press release is justified and what's lead to the media frenzy. Sometimes editors at media outlets get a little panicked when there's a big story swirling around and they haven't done anything with it. It all started as a largely ignored paper about the number of positive and negative words people use in Facebook posts. Now it's a major scandal. The New York Times connected the Facebook experiment to suicides. The story was headlined, Should Facebook Manipulate Users, and it rests on the questionable assumption that such manipulation has happened. Stories that ran over the weekend raised serious questions about the lack of informed consent used in the experiment, which was done by researchers at Cornell and Facebook and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But to say Facebook’s slight alteration of news feeds caused people to suffer depression seems to be unsupported by any kind of data or logic.
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Facebook Fallout, Facts and Frenzy

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  • by StoneCrusher ( 717949 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @08:36AM (#47375163)
    Ah... the apology that puts blame on the victim. A hall mark of abusers and sociopath's everywhere.

    Now everyone would of notice that they are only apologising for the mis-communication, not the act of physiological experimentation (as if we would be OK with it if they had told us). But it goes deeper...

    Notice that they put the action and apology in two difference sentences, followed quickly by a "We never meant to upset you." Putting the emotional blame back on us. As if we were just accidentally bumped bystanders, not the actual targets of the actions.

    And never ever use the word "Sorry". Only the big weasel phrase "we appologise". This apology goes right along with the classic phoney apologies...

    I'm sorry you that you got upset.
    I'm sorry that you feel that way.
    I'm sorry that you made me do that.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @08:45AM (#47375201) Homepage

    This should never have made it through the ethics board.

    Ah, but Facebook isn't a university ... they don't have one of those.

    So, either they went to the scientists and said "hey, we want to find something out", or the scientists went to Facebook and said "hey, we could do an awesome experiment on your users".

    Either way, Sandberg sounds like an unapolagetic smug idiot who more or less said "they're our users, we do this shit all the time".

    The people who run Facebook are assholes, and don't give a crap about anything more than how they can maximize ad revenue. And Zuckerfuck is a complete hypocrite about privacy -- his users get none, and he jealously guards his own.

  • by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @09:32AM (#47375525)

    Except that the purpose of this experiment was to play with emotions of their users. And upset was one of the expected results.

    Worse: The study has military sponsorship [], part of ongoing experiments how to manipulate/prevent/encourage spread of ideas (like voting for an unapproved political parties or mute general discontent):

    "research was connected to a Department of Defense project called the Minerva Initiative, which funds universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world."

    The end game explain in this very long but very insightful analysis: America’s Real Foreign Policy – A Corporate Protection Racket [].

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