Facebook experiment without consent

Facebook experiment without consent

Are we Facebook Lab Rats ?


Facebook network was involved in a big scandal after it was discovered that in 2012 it  used 689 003 website users as unknowing participants in a psychological experiment. This is unethical, some say.
For this Facebook experiment without consent, it was optimized news feed section of the user. So they displayed more negative posts to some users and more positive posts to other users. They wanted to see how that will affect what people write / post on their Facebook wall. Users who have seen fewer negative news were more positive in their posts and vice versa.  Study authors Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffrey Hancock said: “We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”

Even that Facebook experiment without consent took place for just  one week, it is believed that affected people all around the world, not only US people.

The study, entitled “Experimental evidence of widespread emotional contagion through social networks” was released in America in March this year in “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States”. The experiment was made with the help of two US Universities.

When people found out about this they were outraged.  It seems like it was a innocuous study, but when a psychological research is made and people are involved you must obtain their consent. In Facebook’s case there was no consent required.

Facebook apologises for this secret experiment

“I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused”.

What do you think about this experiment? How do you feel, thinking that you might have been a lab rat? Please comment your thoughts below.



Jack is a tech blogger and content marketer specializing in online security and privacy. He spends his time split between Western Canada and Asia Pacific.