Facebook, We Find Out

UPDATE 7/2 13:00 – And now comes the apology from lean in lady, Sheryl Sandberg … Truly, how does this quote from the article not make you gag and continue to not believe anything anyone at Facebook, says about caring about it’s users:

And we will continue to make sure users understand that we care about their privacy. We care about their experience, and we want to do everything we can to give them the best experience we can.”

We find out you can’t truly delete everything in your Facebook account.

We find out Facebook doesn’t care about your privacy until its caught.

We find out they don’t trust their own algorithms to add “dislike” buttons.

We find out they think deliberately changing the mood of their users toward more negative posts is no big deal.

Yes, that’s the latest. In 2012, Facebook and two university psychologists conducted an experiment where they grouped negative posts together in 689,000 users’ news feeds to see if that would result in more negative posts from their 689,000 subjects. There are questions about any value at all to the study, about differences between data and manipulating people to act. The Army and the “Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education” both contributed money to the study.

Here’s some articles on the subject. For once read the comments. I’m on a few of them making points, getting increasingly outraged that people don’t want to examine what’s going on. In order (to the bes tof my knowledge) of publication:

The actual study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal June 2 (before print), titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” (I also downloaded the PDF separately if that link disappears.

June 17 15:26 ET … c|net’s “Facebook – see a happy post, write a happy post” Published before details of how the data was gathered.

June 28 05:00 ET (I think, it says 12:0 PM BST) … Telegraph’s “Facebook conducted secret psychology experiment on users’ emotions” (a lot of comments)

June 28 12:58 ET … Business Insider’s “Facebook Ran A Huge Psychological Experiment on Users And Manipulated The Emotions of more than 600,000 People” (assuming ET)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-study-emotional-states-transfer-2014-6#ixzz363tjBzbe”

June 28 14:00 ET … Forbes’ “Facebook Manipulated 689,0003 Users’ Emotions for Science

June 28 14:51 ET … The Atlantic’s “Everything we Know about Facebook’s Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment” (a lot of comments)

June 28 15:45 … The Atlantic (via Business Insider) “Even the Editor of Facebook’s Mood Study Thought it Was Creepy

June 28 17:50 ET … Slate’s “Facebook’s Unethical Experiment” This is the first one I read. (A lot of comments)

June 28 18:11 ET … The Wire’s “The Many Reason’s to Dislike Facebook’s Mood Manipulation Experiment

June 28 18:28 ET … Venture Beat “Facebook secret experimented with the moods of 700,000 of its users” (Great Clockwork Orange image, there.

June 29 13:35 ET … PC Mag’s “Facebook Emotional Experiment Annoys Users

June 29 13:43 ET … c|net’s “How Facebook conducts experiments on your emotions

And people are calling me out online for raising questions. Seriously, if someone wants to just bleet “it’s free, shut up” go right ahead. Others want to think a little deeper. (Some just say it’s free, without the “shut up” part).

People excuse EVERYTHING Facebook does on the grounds that it’s free so you can’t complain. Or that you signed the terms of service agreement where it says they will do X or Y or Z so you already knew what you were signing up for. Except, with Facebook in particular, they rarely let people know of changes until after the fact; seemingly only when they are made to do so.

Bad Idea
This idea of “you signed up for and it’s free so quite complaining” comes up in several venues but it just does not make sense. Follow this.

If you start with a company in 2005, let’s say you signed off on something then. At one point do you expect that the company will ask certain outrageous things of you; in this case, that you will be a subject in a psychological experiment. Or that everything you wrote for a site, is suddenly transferred to 100% copyright ownership by that site and its owners. You wrote for free. Previously, the site owners had said they would never go this route, yet didn’t tell you of this change. But you clicked on that “OK” button when asked if you accepted new agreement of services because you were in a hurry to read something else.

Facebook has told us it keeps track of the status updates we never actually post. Like any other site, it will eventually be deeply hacked.

In 2011 after issuing an in-depth complaint against (PDF) the company, the FTC censured Facebook for a whole slew of deceptions:

The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The proposed settlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.

There are questions. Ask them