Facebook apologizes for psychological experiment; explains new research guidelines

The social network’s CTO explained the motivation behind the 2012 research which manipulated users’ emotions and said things should have been ‘done differently.’

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Facebook is sorry for tampering with your emotions.

Well, kind of sorry.

Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, said in a blog post Thursday that the company was “unprepared for the reaction” to an “emotional contagion” study on Facebook, and he acknowledged that changes must be made.

In the post, he wrote:

It is clear now that there are things we should have done differently. For example, we should have considered other non-experimental ways to do this research. The research would also have benefited from more extensive review by a wider and more senior group of people. Last, in releasing the study, we failed to communicate clearly why and how we did it.

The research findings were from a 2012 experiment involving researchers adjusting Facebook’s algorithms for almost 700,000 users. The newsfeed tweaks showed users a high number of positive posts or negative posts, and the week-long experiment found the users’ moods were affected by the status updates, as they wrote more positive or negative posts based upon what they had been shown.

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