Facebook admitted recently that they were still using Facebook users for their creepy research experiments. Here is a detailed explanation of the privacy infringement here on my Knoxville Social Media Examiner Column. The research they are doing is not just a minor data collection. Facebook issued a statement that they are going to tighten up the way they conduct research from now on, especially if it involves emotional issues. They are going to require more vetting prior to research experiments, and they will provide a bit more training. However, they are still doing them, of course. You silly Facebook users, don’t you know you signed a release for this, Facebook has explained.
The one research project in question that actually made it to the light of day involved Facebook researchers closely monitoring the status updates of several hundred thousand users to determine if they were happy or sad based on the manipulated newsfeeds they were being shown. They were seeking to prove whether being shown sad newsfeeds made people sad. This is an invasion of privacy, but we have come to expect this invasion of privacy from Facebook. It seems that people think it is just a necessary evil inherent in the wonderful social media experience that is Facebook.
Many happy Facebook addicts would defensively ask what harm was really done in researchers sitting in an office studying your emotions without your permission. So, the same would follow that a “peeping Tom” peering in your bedroom window is harmless unless he makes a move to actually assault you in some way. Really? I would have to say that someone “monitoring” me in any fashion creeps me out! And, it should creep you out, too!
Does this mean that we should all immediately cancel our Facebook accounts? That is up to you, but what does make sense is ending this common practice of living our life, sentence by sentence, on Facebook for all the world to see. You may even want to reduce your Facebook footprint in some way, too, although the information is already out there. You need only go to the Activity Log on your profile page to remove items one-by-one.
Have you ever stopped and thought about how they tricked us into thinking that sharing all our personal business online was something we needed to do?