Facebook draws ire of UK regulators over secret news feed study


Facebook is being investigated by UK regulators over concerns that the social network may have infringed on data protection laws in the country. This is a follow-up to findings that the social network conducted experiments on some of its user base without prior permission.

The social network has come under a lot of flak after it was revealed last week that it conducted psychological experiments on nearly 700,000 users without their notice. The study modified the newsfeed algorithm to show overly positive or negative posts to users, with the intent of determining how these posts affected their status updates. The research revealed that users who were shown negative posts were inclined to post positive updates, while users who were shown more positive content posted negative status updates.

While the Facebook researcher responsible for the study has since stated that no user data has been compromised, there has been an upheaval from millions of users over privacy concerns.

It looks like the UK regulators share these concerns, as Britain's Information Commissioner Office and the Irish Data Protection Office are set to probe the social network's activities with regards to the research study. Since Facebook's European headquarters are based in Dublin, its policies in the region are governed by Ireland.

The regulators have mentioned that it was too early to determine what part of the law Facebook may have infringed, and that they were awaiting a full report from the company.

What are your thoughts on Facebook's newsfeed research? Do you think that the social network has been forthcoming in revealing its intentions behind the study?

Source: Financial Times; Via: Bloomberg

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Harish Jonnalagadda

Newsroom Warrior for Mobile Nations

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Reader comments

Facebook draws ire of UK regulators over secret news feed study


This study is not as innocuous as FB would like us to believe. Did people get depressed from reading constant negativity in their news feeds? Hats off to the U.K. for the investigation. Time for the U.S. laws to catch up with technology.