Facebook’s new research guidelines after controversy

Facebook’s new research guidelines after controversy



Some of you may remember a while back the headline that Facebook was intentionally messing with the moods of some of its users, all in the name of research – and it caused a bit of a stink. Now, it seems Facebook has taken that on-board, vowing to change the way it conducts research on the social media site.


What Facebook had to say:


According to Chief Technology Officer at Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, Facebook is still set on conducting research in order to give a better service for its users, but they also want to be responsible – better late than never, we suppose.

The study – which caused so much of a backlash earlier in the year when results were published – studied the responses of some of its users when they were shown positive and negative posts from friends. But Facebook manipulated posts in a way that some people were mainly exposed to one or the other, and (as predicted) the ones who were mainly subjected to negative posts experienced a general drop in mood.

As you can imagine, this upset a lot of people, who did not like the idea of being unwittingly manipulated in such a way just for the sake of Facebook’s research, although apparently the company “have taken to heart the comments and criticism.”


The Fix?


Schroepfer has admitted the company could have done things differently, perhaps using non-experimental methods to conduct such research, and over the past three months and company have been looking in more detail at how they do things. The result is a new framework, key aspects of which they’ve released to the public.


– Guidelines: If research will be focused on particular groups of people, or may feature content that is personal or could be considered in any way relating to emotions, it will be subjected to stricter review guidelines before it can go ahead.

– Review: Facebook now has a panel to review these projects.

– Training: All new Facebook recruits will be educated on Facebook’s research processes during their six-week training.

– Research website: The public will be able to view all of Facebook’s published research via a regularly updated website.


The bottom line is that Facebook’s research will continue, but hopefully at a more responsible and transparent level for all involved.