Regulators Take Stern Look at Facebook Study
As Cornell clarifies its involvement
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jul 2, 2014 8:23 AM CDT
In this June 11, 2014 photo, a man poses for photographs in front of the Facebook sign on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – Facebook's controversial emotional manipulation study has users outraged and, at least in Europe, regulators are responding. The study has prompted "several" European data protection agencies, including Britain's Information Commissioner's Office and Ireland's Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, to look into whether Facebook broke privacy laws, the New York Times reports—the latter agency being important because Facebook's international headquarters are in Dublin. Neither has launched a formal investigation yet, but the Irish agency has sent questions to Facebook about the study. More:

  • The uproar has Cornell clarifying its involvement, the Washington Post reports. Both a Cornell professor and doctoral student worked with Facebook on the study, and Cornell on Monday issued a statement explaining that the experiment took place before Cornell's Institutional Review Board was made aware of it, and that "the research was conducted independently by Facebook," with the Cornell participants merely accessing the results of it.
  • Forbes points out that Facebook's data use policy currently reads that user info can be used "for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement." Except that line was introduced in May 2012; the experiment took place in January 2012.
  • But as angry as people are, most aren't quitting the social network, USA Today reports, though it cites only anecdotal interviews with users to support this hypothesis. "I don't see anyone on Facebook saying they are going to quit altogether," one user says. "It's just a part of our lives now."

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Jul 11, 2014 8:03 PM CDT
Christopher Wilson, a 22-year-old computer science student, has been sent to jail for six months for refusing to hand over his computer encryption passwords. Wilson has been accused of "phoning in a fake warning of an impending cyber attack against Northumbria Police that was convincing enough for the force to temporarily suspend its site as a precaution once a small attack started." He's also accused of trolling on Facebook. Wilson only came to the attention of police in October 2012 after he allegedly emailed warnings about an online threat against one of the staff at Newcastle University. ... The threatening emails came from computer servers linked to Wilson. Police obtained a warrant on this basis and raided his home in Washington, where they seized various items of computer equipment. ... Investigators wanted to examine his encrypted computer but the passwords supplied by Wilson turned out to be incorrect. None of the 50 passwords he provided worked. Frustration with his lack of co-operation prompted police to obtained a order from a judge compelling him to turn over the correct passphrase last year. A judge ordered him to turn over these passwords on the grounds of national security but Wilson still failed to comply, earning him six months behind bars.
Jul 9, 2014 11:18 PM CDT
Wasn't Facebook founded by the guy who humiliated women at his college ?
Jul 6, 2014 3:28 PM CDT
Some people who complain about the lack of privacy on Facebook I use it to send messages to friends but other people even have their phones set to tell Facebook & everyone else where they are at ie Leroy Jones is in the restroom at Walmarts fifth & main! I do not care where he is at!