Facebook Revamps Research Guidelines After Emotion Study Fiasco

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After the public relations disaster that was Facebook's study of manipulation of emotional states, the social network is changing the way it does research on and around its users. The 2012 study, which changed what people saw in their news feed and recorded any resulting changes in demeanor, horrified many users, who hadn't explicitly consented or been informed. It also earned Facebook a rebuke from the journal that published the paper. Facebook apologized Thursday: "We're committed to doing research to make Facebook better, but we want to do it in the most responsible way," wrote Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer. To that end, researchers have been given clearer and more restrictive guidelines, and there is now an interdepartmental panel that will look over proposals and methods, similar to academic ethics reviews. Research and guidelines will not, however, be reviewed by any groups outside of Facebook, the New York Times reported. Lastly, all research, whether it's on emotions or datacenter optimization, can be found at one centralized site from now on.



—Devin Coldewey