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Last updated: July 02. 2014 11:14PM - 510 Views
Associated Press



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LONDON — British data protection authorities are investigating revelations that Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on its users.


The Information Commissioner’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that it wants to learn more about the circumstances of the experiment carried out by two U.S. universities and the social network.


The commissioner’s office is working with authorities in Ireland, where Facebook has headquarters for its European operations. French authorities are also reviewing the matter.


The researchers manipulated the news feeds of about 700,000 randomly selected users to study the impact of “emotional contagion,” or how emotional states are transferred to others. The researchers said the evidence showed that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people and “in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”


Facebook acknowledged that the research was done for a single week in 2012.


The survey provoked an outcry on social media sites and sparked essays in media outlets including the New York Times and The Atlantic about how ethical it is to manipulate users’ feeds without their consent.


“It’s clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it,” the company said in a statement. “We want to do better in the future and are improving our process based on this feedback. The study was done with appropriate protections for people’s information.”


Facebook’s data use policy says the company can use user information for, “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”


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