Facebook’s social experiments appear far more extensive than its now-infamous emotions study

Facebook’s social experiments

Quartz

Facebook made headlines for a recently published study where it modified the emotional content of what appeared in people’s news feeds and studied the after-effect of that change on users—an experiment some condemned as an intrusion and a manipulation of unsuspecting users of the social network. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports now that the study was just one of “hundreds” of tests run by a highly active and not particularly well-supervised group of data scientists.

Though there are stricter guidelines now, the Journal reports that Facebook’s data science team, formed in 2007, could run tests and experiment with very little oversight compared to university researchers—without the consent of study participants beyond accepting Facebook’s terms of service, and without informing those under study. We have reached out to Facebook for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

Andrew Ledvina, a former data scientist at the company, paints a picture of an organization operating without much…

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