Very recently, it was shared that in 2012 Facebook performed research to see if Facebook users moods were affected by the types of posts they received. In an ANONYMOUS study, facebook selected close to 700,000 random users and decided to manipulate their posts to see what their reaction would be.
So, a random user might have received many more negative posts than usual, and vice versa. The study wanted to see if those users would then, in turn, write more negative posts or positive posts.
The study found that the feeds did indeed affect users. More negative feeds resulted in users writing negative posts, and positive feeds resulted in positive posts.
But now, Facebook is taking a lot of flack for a study that could be deemed as unethical because it did not inform their customers. Although Facebook is saying that no one was hurt, they can’t really measure that for sure.
Could someone who was already depressed, and received negative posts, become MORE depressed and thus, maybe been triggered psychologically in a continuing downward spiral that adversely affected their lives? Think Butterfly affect here.
The story is still ongoing as a top executive from Facebook refused to apologize for the study itself, but did apologize for the way it was communicated.
My question: Did Facebook do anything wrong in the way they went about their study and do you think the flack they are getting is justified?