Facebook privacy policy in European probe

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.

Facebook news feeds ‘manipulated’

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.

‘Comprehensive evaluation’

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.

The data watchdog is understood to be concerned over Facebook’s privacy policy and user consent to the test, and demanded a “comprehensive evaluation” of the experiment, which involved researchers from Cornell University and the University of California.

‘Creepy’, ‘evil’, ‘disturbing’

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 , We Live Security

  • Jammer

    Why do people still use Face Book has me stumped. its crap, has turned society into people who walk around the shops staring at their phones and not even looking where they are going.

    • I think that’s exactly the sort of stereotypical view of what a FB user is like that Facebook itself has, which is why its research – ethical, methodological and legal issues aside – is unlikely to be of any significant value.

  • Vicki

    I hate Facebook and I am so glad I closed my account. They played around with my privacy settings and it angered me so much I closed my account. And, then there’s that “Deepface” souped up facial recognition software that is equally as creepy as what they did in 2012 (I believe I learned about Deepface from our friends at ESET). People just don’t get it, or they don’t care. I have talked to my friends about what Facebook does and a common reply is “I have nothing to hide”. Say what? I have nothing to hide, either, but I damned sure am not going to let a website do to me what Facebook has done to so many. They are “creeps” and it just reeks of government intervention. I’m pissed as hell that Obama extended the Patriot Act. Let’s face it, though, our Presidents don’t have any control over what goes on; it’s the henchmen next to him who roll the dice.

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