Facebook’s attempt to manipulate its users during a psychological study was “poorly communicated,” the social media giant’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said this week
Facebook conducted a study during one week in 2012 to test how lowering the number of positive or negative posts in news feeds could prompt users to post more positive or negative content, according to multiple media reports.
As part of the study, which was published in March in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Facebook clandestinely changed the mix in the news feeds of about 700 000 users.
“This was part of on-going research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was. It was poorly communicated, and for that communication we apologise,” Sheryl Sandberg said during a trip in New Delhi. “We never meant to upset you.”
Asked whether it was ethical, Sandberg said: “We communicated really badly on this subject,” she said, before adding: “We take privacy at Facebook really seriously.”
The company’s apology comes as British authorities on Wednesday announced they will investigate Facebook over the experiment after news of the “creepy” experiment caused outrage among users. “We’re aware of this issue and will be speaking to Facebook, as well as liaising with the Irish data protection authority, to learn more about the circumstances,” a spokesman for Britain’s independent data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office told AFP.
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