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I love social media but have low expectations of it from an ethical perspective. I see it as my responsibility to manage my use of social media so that I can live with the consequences.

Reading about the Facebook Manipulation project saddened, but did not surprise me. The big surprise? That prestigious universities’ ethics committees allowed psychological manipulation of people who were not given the option of participation.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-30/facebooks-emotional-manipulation-test-was-unethical-and-so-is-the-rest-of-social-media and http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full.pdf

Makes you wonder how many wives were beaten, dogs kicked or employees fired, because of additional negative thoughts in troubled people’s minds? Conversely, were bad choices made by people who were manipulated to feel more positive than their circumstances warranted? The fact that these unintended consequences cannot be identified and blamed on the research, does not make it right.

Facebook behaved as we might have expected but sadly and of greater concern, a group of university researchers seem to have missed the real point around data privacy. Personal information is protected by privacy laws because sharing our information with others can touch and negatively impact our lives. Just because Facebook used data without using names, does not make it right and does not mean it did not impact on lives.

Makes me wonder what next?

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