Facebook is in full-on apology mode after they secretly conducted a psychological experiment on 700,000 users which manipulated their newsfeeds.
Many believe it was scientifically unethical along with violating the rights of Facebook users.
The experiment that was conducted was part of a larger ongoing study stemming from 2012, where researchers randomly selected close to 700,000 of Facebook’s 1.3 billion user base.
From there, they displayed either more positive or negative posts. Then they observed whether this prompted users to write more positive or negative posts themselves.
Not only was the research done in a secretive manner, it was also communicated rather poorly afterwards. The communication of the research may have been the biggest impetus for the backlash.
The issue now is why did Facebook even attempt to control or alter its user’s emotions? There’s no clearcut answers, especially since Facebook is being very tight lipped beyond continually saying they are sorry.
The information is valuable from a scientific and societal aspect, but there are potential ways that it could have helped Facebook when it came to selling ads or boosting posts.
The information could potentially be implemented into their monetized advertising strategies. Of course, this is just a theory.
There’s a great lesson here for digital marketers. When it comes to users and your fans, be honest and try not to get caught with your pants down after the fact.
Users protect their rights and are very vocal when they feel violated. Digital marketers need to recognize this and ensure that they are respectful of user’s rights and in no way attempt to deceive them.
Facebook arguably built the world’s largest and most passionate user base, and they also got bit by it.
Do you think this is a lesson learned for Facebook or do you expect to see more “psychological studies” at some point in the near future? Are you now worried that your newsfeed might be manipulated?