Thursday, November 20, 2014

Researchers Caught Manipulating Facebook Users for "Science"

Facebook, in collaboration with Cornell university, conducted research on Facebook users without their consent in an attempt to manipulate emotions through an emotional contagion.

This violation is of high concern ethically, because ever since the horrific experiments in Nazi Germany in the mid 1900's and Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments in the U.S. South around the same time, there has been an iron-clad code of not performing research on human subjects without their full knowledge and consent. In the opinion of some academics, Facebook in conjunction with Cornell researchers violated this code of ethics.

A recent opinion article from Johns Hopkins University discusses the issues, stating that new technology and social media platforms have made it essential to update accepted research principles and ethics.

Watch this issue closely. Are we looking at early attempts of massive governmental control in the style of Orwell's 1984? Are governments willing to surreptitiously manipulate emotions to disrupt peace versus war via Facebook in order to achieve greater power? Is Facebook a willing partner?