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Facebook Emotion Experiment Prompts Senator’s Letter To FTC

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Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) has written a letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding Facebook’s controversial emotion experiment, seeking to have the commission examine the ordeal.

“I come from the technology world, and I understand that social media companies are looking for ways to extract value from the information willingly provided by their huge customer base,” said Warner. “I don’t know if Facebook’s manipulation of users’ news feeds was appropriate or not. But I think many consumers were surprised to learn they had given permission by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service. And I think the industry could benefit from a conversation about what are the appropriate rules of the road going forward.”

Actually, as others have pointed out, Facebook didn’t even have the language in question in its terms of service at the time of the experiment. It was added later.

The language may have changed, but Facebook told Forbes thist:

“When someone signs up for Facebook, we’ve always asked permission to use their information to provide and enhance the services we offer. To suggest we conducted any corporate research without permission is complete fiction. Companies that want to improve their services use the information their customers provide, whether or not their privacy policy uses the word ‘research’ or not.”

Here’s Warner’s letter (via AllFacebook):

Warner Letter to FTC 7 9 14 by Mark Warner

Facebook’s experiment has also drawn interest from the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, who is investigating the company.

Various Facebook executives have defended the study, while acknowledging that they could have better communicated about it.

Image via Senate.gov

Facebook Emotion Experiment Prompts Senator’s Letter To FTC
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