Facebook Toying With Us? That's Nothing New
Our News Feeds have always been based on its bottom line: David Weinberger
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 1, 2014 1:54 PM CDT
Facebook conducted a social experiment to see how we react to certain mixes of posts.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – News of a Facebook social experiment examining the effect positive or negative posts have on users has prompted justifiable anger. What it shouldn't provoke is surprise. After all, online companies are conducting similar "A/B tests" all the time in order to maximize usage and profits, writes David Weinberger at CNN. For instance, Amazon might try putting a banner on one side of the site for some users and the other side for others, with the goal of determining which side generates more clicks. Such testing is done on everything from "font sizes to colors to the depth of the drop shadows."

The trouble with Facebook's newly-revealed experiment is that it played with our emotions. But that's nothing new: Our Facebook feeds are always based on algorithms, and they're "based on what works for Facebook, Inc., and only secondarily based on what works for us as individuals and as a society," Weinberger writes. Facebook's goal is "happy customers," but that just means people who visit and click a lot. So what should be done about it? Perhaps filters could be more user-controlled or designed with "socially desirable aims." But we can't expect such changes when we're giving social data to "commercial entities that have as their primary interest not the health of our society and culture, but their bottom line." Click for his full piece.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
JoeQ
Jul 1, 2014 9:58 PM CDT
When they start picking out twins like Dr Mengele, I'll start to worry.
julianpenrod
Jul 1, 2014 6:36 PM CDT
Note heretoday's attempt to reinterpret the situation to support their own agenda. For example, heretoday opines that Facebook lets them block things they don't want to see and lets them “pick and choose the experience” they want. But that's precisely what the accusation is, that they flooded certain individuals with newsfeeds they didn't like. But there is a lesson here. In 2012, when this was happening, how many would greet claims that Facebook was tampering with viewers' emotions disbelievingly. How many would buy deniers', “debunkers'”, “nay sayers'” lies that nothing untoward was happening? The constant cry of “conspiracy theories”, as if that automatically invalidates a claim. People insisting it had to be a “traffic study”, even though it stopped all traffic on the George Washington Bridge for four days. People demanding it's reasonable that money for repair from Sandy should be withheld for two years or more, that it can't be an act of political criminality. People claiming that had to have been Spain, not the careless discarding of a lit cigar in the power magazine, that sank the U.S.S. Maine. People believing President Eisenhower when he lied that the U.S. spied on Russia using high flying jets. Until one was shot down and its pilot captured. The “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” was a fraud. Planes were deliberately left out in the open at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941! It was normal routine to hangar all planes over the weekend! A public relations pal of George H.W. Bush arranged for the daughter of a diplomat to pretend to be a “nurse” and lodge false claims against Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, leading to the First Gulf War, the “Nayirah” fraud. No ragtag group of dissidents would launch an operation as guaranteed to bring down massive military reprisal as September 11 was. That's not how “terrorists” act. They supposedly work only to instill fear, not anger. Iraq had nowhere near the infrastructure, at the very least, to maintain the massive banned weapons systems that George W. Bush lied were there. Chemtrails are not normal contrails and they are the real cause of climate change. It's admitted that a “vaccination program” in Pakistan was a fraud, intended supposedly only to locate bin Laden's bunker. As if even that “explanation” can be trusted. How difficult is it to spot a bunker from satellite images? But, then, the “intelligence community” declares that it has infiltrated a number of “immunization programs'. And it's revealed that “Dr. Zhivago” was actually an opinion control vehicle launched by the CIA. As if the fact that Zhivago's Communist half brother being almost more moving than Zhivago and Lara didn't suggest at least the whole thing was a hack job. There is no starvation in North Korea. Satellite photos would see the bodies in roads and streets. And, starving people can't mine ore to make weapons for the military, can't transport ore to the factories to make weapons for the military, can't make uniforms for the military. It's all a lie, everything we're told. There is a crucial point, though. The reason all this could happen at Facebook is the same reason all these lies and deceptions can occur throughout society. People aren't talking to each other enough, anymore. Even on “social media”, they don't talk! Thy post pictures, they “friend” someone, they update their status, but they don't talk! If people talked, compared notes, they could verify that vaccines don't have the records of success the “doctors” claim; they would verify that, in fact, Kennedy, Kaufman, Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tate, Diana Spencer, Elvis are all still alive, that seeing them is not a mistake; they would verify that the numbers claimed by criminally corrupt “election” boards do not reflect votes actually tallied!
JERZJOE
Jul 1, 2014 3:43 PM CDT
When u get something for FREE like FB!! YOU become the PRODUCT!! There ya go!!