‘Facebook has done so many things over the years that scared and freaked out people.’
A Facebook researcher apologized after conducting an experiment that temporarily influenced what almost 700,000 readers saw on their news feeds, reviving some customers’ concerns about privacy issues.
The number of positive and negative comments that users saw on their feeds of articles and photos was altered in January 2012, according to a study published June 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. People shown fewer positive words were found to write more negative posts, while the reverse happened with those exposed to fewer negative terms, according to the trial of random Facebook users.
Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist who was among study’s authors, wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that the team was “very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused.”
The data showed that online messages influence readers’ “experience of emotions,” which may affect offline behavior, the researchers said. Some Facebook users turned to Twitter to express outrage over the research as a breach of their privacy.
“Facebook knows it can push its users’ limits, invade their privacy, use their information and get away with it,” said James Grimmelmann, a professor of technology and the law at the University of Maryland. “Facebook has done so many things over the years that scared and freaked out people.”
Even so, the anger won’t have a long-lasting effect, Grimmelmann said. While some users may threaten to leave Facebook, most people “want to be where there friends are” and there is no alternative to the social networking site that provides more privacy, he said. …
… The Facebook study is “really important research” that shows the value of receiving positive news and how it improves social connections, said James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas. Facebook might have avoided some of the resulting controversy by allowing users to opt out of taking part in any research, he said.
“It will make people a little bit nervous for a couple of days,” he said in an interview. “The fact is, Google knows everything about us, Amazon knows a huge amount about us. It’s stunning how much all of these big companies know. If one is paranoid, it creeps them out.” …
Lemme get this straight. One arrogant fuckwit figures no one will quit fb after this mindfuck because everyone’s friends are there? Fucking spare me. It’s ‘their’ friends, not ‘there’ friends too, also. Another arrogant asshole, a university of texASS psychology professor ‘thinks’ that only the paranoid are concerned about all these companies having shedloads of info about us? He sounds just like those “You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide!” party line-spewing robotic shills.