“I don’t know if Facebook’s manipulation of users’ news feeds was appropriate or not. But I think many consumers were surprised to learn they had given permission by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service.”—
Sen. Warner Raises Questions About Facebook Experiment to Influence Users’ Emotions
Facebook’s infamous psychological experiment attracted attention from Congress today, as Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) appealed to the FTC for more information surrounding the ill-received newsfeed operation. In the experiment, hundreds of thousands of users were monitored as Facebook aimed to see if moods and emotions could be transferred between users via social media.
“I come from the technology world, and I understand that social media companies are looking for ways to extract value from the information willingly provided by their huge customer base,” he said. “I think the industry could benefit from a conversation about what are the appropriate rules of the road going forward.”
Manipulation of user feeds prompted public outrage over the use of personal data for undisclosed company use. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg publicly apologized for the incident last week, saying the experiment was “poorly communicated”.
““This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was… We never meant to upset you.”
In his letter, Sen. Warner proposes that the experiment may have violated user agreements and possibly Section 5 of the FTC Act.
"It is not clear whether Facebook users were adequately informed and given an opportunity to opt-in or opt-out," he said.
The company will release its first electric motorcycle next week, showing off demo models at an exclusive event in New York Monday. They sold more than 260,000 conventional motorcycles last year, and the movement towards electric vehicles is seen as risky by some.
Selected riders will test drive the bikes and provide feedback. The final product might not be on the market for several years.