The terrifying news released last week that Facebook admitted to manipulating the posts of 689,003 users in a mood-changing social experiment came as a shock to people worldwide. Further investigations into the ethicality of their experiments has uncovered new information that suggests Facebook has been using their “guinea-pig” users in a much more problematic way.
This secondary experiment first became apparent when reading the official report released by Facebook, sources noticed occasional references to something called “dating data.” When prompted about the mysterious data, Facebook technology teams confessed to what they had been doing throughout the site.
“Using what we learned from our initial experiment – that modifying the news feeds of a user could in fact modify their mood as a whole – we invested in a smaller project to see if by modifying people’s news feeds and shared information, we could push for romantic relationships between certain users, and deter them between others.” Said an employee of the company, speaking under the guise of anonymity.
“Our aim was to discover how far social networking goes today in regards to formulating intimacy between people.” Said another employee in charge of the dating data. “We edited private messages being sent between users, even sent a few ourselves, and we even used our stupid ‘poke’ option to generate interest between chosen users. If you got ‘poked’ in the last year on the site, that was most definitely us. No one actually pokes anybody.”
“To be honest, the whole thing was just a game to us. We’d choose a couple people in the same city at random, make sure they didn’t know each other at all, and start playing our games. It was all really just for a laugh. Oh, and, of course, to study human interaction, etcetera blah blah.”
This bizarre matchmaking experiment prompts ethicists and futurists to ask several alarming questions about the nature of privacy on the internet and how much we allow technology to control our lives in this day and age
“What we have here is a prime example of when massive corporations such as Facebook, are given too much power over the day-to-day social (and private) lives of everyday people.” Futurist Jim Carroll explained. “Hollywood makes so many movies about far-off futuristic dystopias, but what many don’t realize, and what’s highlighted by Facebook’s invasive studies, is that we are already living in one.”
When asked to comment on their latest scandal, Facebook responded by neither admitting their faults, nor denying that they were manipulating user data.
“We here at Facebook believe in user privacy, sorta, but we also believe in scientific discovery. It is important to understand human emotion and just how easily it can be tweaked by interactive new media such as social networking. We are dealing with new technology here that no one completely understands. Experiments can help us learn.”
Facebook, as a publicly traded company, is legally allowed to do whatever they want with the public and private data that users transmit through their system. The end-user agreement that is digitally “signed” by any user who creates an account, actually gives Facebook the company a lot of rights over them that they probably would never allow.
Analysts have said that in the several years that Facebook has grown to be one of the biggest websites in the world, not a single person who has created an account has taken the time to read the license agreement the site makes you agree to. They went on to say the only way to stop Facebook from manipulating their data is to stop using the website all together.
“Really, the best thing would be to switch to something like MySpace or Google Plus.” Said one analyst. “Your information is going to be extremely private on those websites, because no one uses them in the first place, so no one cares to study the user data of a handful of people.”