Facebook researchers apologize for unconsented user research

Company manipulated news feeds in 2012 and studied user reactions

History is filled with examples of unethical, unconsented research, and while some of these studies have contributed to society’s understanding of science, they also demonstrate another key fact: people really don’t like being part of studies they don’t consent to. Facebook is the most recent research platform to learn that lesson.

On June 29, Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, apologized for research he and others had conducted on over 600,000 people without direct consent in 2012. The team behind the experiment slightly altered subject’s news feeds to be either more positive or negative, and then studied the correlating moods of the users. The study found that those exposed to more positive feeds were slightly more likely to leave positive posts, and those with negative feeds were slightly more likely to leave negative posts.

Executive Editor

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Chris DiMarco

Chris DiMarco, Executive Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, has a background in multimedia production with previous involvement in projects in which he developed and created content...

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