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Facebook’s Sandberg says company’s mood manipulation experiment was ‘never meant to upset you’

Published Jul 2nd, 2014 4:17PM EDT
Facebook Apologizes For Social Experiments

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Facebook made waves this week when it was revealed that the social network had been conducting social experiments on nearly 700,000 of its users in order to see how their mood could be manipulated based on the content they saw on their news feeds. As you might expect, the Internet was outraged, but The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is trying to quell the anger by admitting that the terms were “poorly communicated.”

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg said while in New Delhi meeting with a group of small businesses. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

Adam Kramer, a data scientist at Facebook, wasted no time before letting the community know that although the study was carefully considered before being conducted, it probably wasn’t worth the indignation of Facebook users in hindsight.

“While we’ve always considered what research we do carefully, we (not just me, several other researchers at Facebook) have been working on improving our internal review practices,” wrote Kramer. “The experiment in question was run in early 2012, and we have come a long way since then. Those review practices will also incorporate what we’ve learned from the reaction to this paper.”

There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Facebook will cease its continuous examination of its enormous user base, but at least the company understands that users would rather be openly included in a project than have the terms hidden from them in the future.

“We take privacy and security at Facebook really seriously because that is something that allows people to share” opinions and emotions, Sandberg said.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.