A Facebook Apology

A few weeks ago, Dr. Smith described an experiment that Facebook did using the newsfeed of Facebook participants. The experiment consisted of adjusting the timeline of users to either reflect mostly negative posts or mostly positive posts and then assessing how the viewers’ attitude reflected what they were seeing. Based off of the experiment, there was a direct correlation between the attitude of posts being viewed and the attitude of the user’s posts.

Facebook is now issuing a formal apology for this experiment after publishing the results and receiving large quantities of backlash for this “emotional contagion.” Though they are not apologizing for the experiment itself, they are addressing that they did not clearly explain what the experiment was for and how they went about it as well as considering alternatives ways to have conducted the study.

Similar to a section of my post from last week, this is an issue because companies are taking action that consumers feel violate their personal privacy. Consumers rarely read the service terms because they’re so extraordinarily long and then proceed to become upset over things that are addressed in the terms. It does raise the question though, should companies like Facebook and Apple be allowed to issues service terms that are so long that you can almost guarantee not many users will read them? I think it falls on consumers. The cost of your privacy is the “free” service that you’re signing up for. There is a cost for everything, sometimes it just isn’t in the form of money.



3 thoughts on “A Facebook Apology

  1. While it’s really nice to hear that Facebook apologized the fact of the matter is that they did do it AFTER they got what they wanted. While it does bother me to think that Facebook would do that to its users, it does not surprise me. I also definitely agree with your closing sentence that you pay for the free service Facebook gives you by giving up some of your privacy. Loved the direct reference to things we talked about in class! Great article!


  2. kalitimmerman says:

    Confession: I didn’t have a Facebook account until I started taking this social media course. I never liked the idea of Facebook and only had a profile for awhile when I first came to college. Soon after, I deleted my account and never planned to make another. This time around I don’t post much and only use it to keep up with the evolution of different social media platforms so I can keep up with class conversation. Facebook is free and technically all information uploaded and written on their site belongs to them and I don’t like the idea of that!


  3. Brance Armstrong says:

    I’m so glad they apologized for manipulating people’s mental state *sarcasm* This is just the latest in what seems to be a trend of people agreeing to terms of service that they clearly don’t read. I know this may be surprising, but I don’t read them either. I would love to see a push from consumers for terms of service agreements to be written in a way that it concise and clear to the regular reader, but until that happens consumers need to just know and expect that anything that is on the web is fair game to be used, manipulated, or otherwise used to the advantage of the company providing the service.


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