I haven’t heard of huge numbers of users quitting Facebook over its recent experiments and I haven’t heard of any court cases on behalf of one or more users yet.
That could mean that from now on, Facebook will be free to do exactly as it pleases. If that ticks off or disadvantages its users, those users take responsibility from now on as their continued use of Facebook in spite of all the publicity about what Facebook has been up to can surely be seen as informed consent.
Understandably, the scientific community appears to be appalled.
Meanwhile, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) in the US has filed an official complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission about the Facebook experiment.
On this side of the big pond, a UK regulator is launching a probe into the experiment.
I just learned that Facebook made the blunder of conducting a massive psychological experiment on the users of its English-language version without their explicit consent. This is extremely unethical.
This is bound to have legal consequences.
The Independent published about it today. The paper reporting the results of the experiment appeared in PNAS.
I hope to see class actions in every country that uses the English version of Facebook because this is most definitely not right. No amount of word-twisting by Facebook (or the researchers) can cover up that no users ever consented to this kind of experiment being carried out on them.
In addition, the university researchers involved in the study should be investigated and disciplined. If they were in my employ, I would sack them instantly.
They have damaged the scientific reputation of their universities and, in my view, do not belong in academia. I trust that Cornell University and the University of California will take the appropriate steps.
On the other hand, these researchers are highlighting a serious danger that lurks behind social media, but it does not appear that this was the motivation for their unforgivable conduct.