Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook Doesn’t Understand the Fuss About Its Emotion Manipulation Study

Kashmir Hill, Forbes:

When I signed up for 23andMe — a genetic testing service — it asked if I was willing to be part of “23andWe,” which would allow my genetic material to be part of research studies. I had to affirmatively check a box to say I was okay with that. As I suggested when I wrote about this yesterday, I think Facebook should have something similar. While many users may already expect and be willing to have their behavior studied — and while that may be warranted with “research” being one of the 9,045 words in the data use policy — they don’t expect that Facebook will actively manipulate their environment in order to see how they react. That’s a new level of experimentation, turning Facebook from a fishbowl into a petri dish, and it’s why people are flipping out about this.

Agreed. Regardless of Facebook including “research” as one of thousands of words in their terms of use policy, an explicit checkbox allowing the use of this information for academic research purposes would both comfort users, and likely meet the standards for informed consent, thereby making the data collection more legitimate.