Facebook probed by Britain over mood experiment

Jul 02, 2014
Authorities will question Facebook over an experiment in which the social network secretly manipulated the feelings of users to test their mood, officials said

Authorities will question Facebook over an experiment in which the social network secretly manipulated the feelings of users to test their mood, officials said Wednesday.

Facebook tampered with the system used to create news feeds for 700,000 users to test "" for one week in 2012 without their knowledge. It did not seek explicit consent beforehand, but claims its Terms of Service contract with users permits blanket "research".

The Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's independent data watchdog, said it was now looking into the case.

"We're aware of this issue and will be speaking to Facebook, as well as liaising with the Irish data protection authority, to learn more about the circumstances," a spokesman told AFP.

Facebook's European headquarters are based in the Irish capital Dublin, meaning EU laws, not US ones, apply to its operations.

News of the psychological experiment has caused anger among Facebook's more than one billion active users, with some calling it "super disturbing", "creepy" and "evil".

Researchers wanted to see if the number of positive or negative words in messages the read determined whether they then posted positive or negative content in their status updates.

The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with Facebook and Cornell University and the University of California at San Francisco in the United States, was published in June.

Facebook said it was "happy" to answer the British regulator's questions.

"It's clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it," a Facebook spokesman told AFP by email.

"We want to do better in the future and are improving our process based on this feedback.

"The study was done with appropriate protections for people's information and we are happy to answer any questions regulators may have."

Explore further: Facebook under fire over 'creepy' secret study (Update 2)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Emotional contagion' sweeps Facebook

Jun 14, 2014

When it hasn't been your day – your week, your month, or even your year – it might be time to turn to Facebook friends for a little positive reinforcement. According to a new study by social scientists at Cornell, the ...

Humanitarian liking on Facebook

Jun 09, 2014

"Liking" a page on the social networking site Facebook is a new form of civic engagement and humanitarian support, so concludes research published in the International Journal of Web Based Communities. According to the pa ...

Recommended for you

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

5 hours ago

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

20 hours ago

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

Aug 22, 2014

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

Aug 22, 2014

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

Aug 22, 2014

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

Aug 21, 2014

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Doug_Huffman
not rated yet Jul 02, 2014
Facebook is Orwell's Big Brother for the 21st-Century. The Big Brother meme grew from J. M. Bennett's Correspondence Courses of the early Forties and its slogan, "Let me be your father" that morphed into "Let me be your big brother" when pop was too kindly to be effective.

http://citelighte...3499.jpg
JohnGee
not rated yet Jul 02, 2014
Holy crap, that was English until the very end. Good job Doug.