European privacy regulators have demanded an explanation from Facebook over its alleged “psychological experiment”, in which thousands of unknowing site users’ News Feeds were manipulated in order to gauge their reaction, according to a report by Yahoo News.
Both the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) and the UK Information Commissioner’s Office are investigating the hush-hush week-long experiment, which took place in 2012, and involved 700,000 site users, whose News Feeds were allegedly manipulated to measure “emotional contagion”.
Facebook has not confirmed which users were involved in the test.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the DPC has been in touch with Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin to demand an explanation for the test.
Time reports that America’s Federal Trade Commission has not yet confirmed whether it would investigate Facebook, but reported that Facebook has said that users consent to “research” when they sign up for a Facebook account.
Yahoo News reported that the experiment had caused outrage among site users, reporting comments describing it as, ‘creepy’, ‘evil’ and ‘disturbing’.
Speaking to Time, Facebook said. “None of the data used was associated with a specific person’s Facebook account. We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible.”
“It’s clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it. 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.”
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security