Tag Archives: FACEBOOK

“Your ad wasn’t approved because the body/title text used in the ad promotes the use or sale of illegal drugs,”

Why Did Facebook Block Our Reporting On Hemp?

By Jeff Young 18 hours ago

 

 

Hey, Mark Zuckerberg, can we talk about hemp? No, really, I’m asking: can we? Because a recent experience with Facebook left the impression that reporting on the plant used in products from soap to rope is taboo. Verboten. The leaf that dare not speak its name.

This bit of anti-social media behavior came after ReSource reporter Nicole Erwin profiled Kentucky farmers participating in a state-run research program on hemp, once a commodity in Kentucky. Growers hope to revive the crop but face frustrating limitations because hemp is still lumped in — unfairly, proponents argue — with drugs such as marijuana.

A bill pending in Congress would ease these restrictions but for now the farmers are stuck in legal limbo, unable to adequately grow or process hemp in the U.S. while a multimillion dollar market goes to imports.

When ReSource partner station WKMS in Murray, Kentucky, sought to promote Erwin’s story on Facebook we discovered yet another obstacle: Even talking about the issue can trigger a ban. WKMS News Director Matt Markgraf tried to “boost” a Facebook post on the story and learned that his ad was not allowed.

“Your ad wasn’t approved because the body/title text used in the ad promotes the use or sale of illegal drugs,” read a message from Facebook.

Puzzled, Markgraf wrote a patient appeal, explaining that the ad did not promote anything other than a piece of journalism “about the misconception of illegality regarding hemp v. marijuana.”  

But Facebook was having none of it.

“Such ads violate local laws,” came the reply. “We have zero tolerance towards such ads…This decision is final.”

Markgraf noted the irony at work here: A story questioning hemp’s uncertain legal status was blocked because of…hemp’s uncertain legal status. He also found instant empathy with the hemp grower’s dilemma.

“This clearly underscores the challenges that the emerging industry faces in overcoming the plant’s stigma,” Markgraf said.

It’s hard to see how Erwin’s story could be construed as a sales pitch for a drug. Hemp products include cooking oils, cosmetics, and clothing but lack any significant amount of the intoxicating substance found in marijuana. Proponents say a smoker would need a hemp joint the size of a telephone pole to catch a buzz.

We wondered if anyone at Facebook even reads the appeals. Was Markgraf actually communicating with a person or just arguing with an algorithm?

“If they had actually read the first couple of sentences in the story, I think they would have reconsidered the decision,” Markgraf said.

The company did not respond to requests for comment (beyond the comments included in response to Markgraf’s appeal).

In the past few months Facebook has come under fire for alleged political bias, prompting a meeting with conservative lawmakers this spring. And the platform has become such an important means of connecting with an audience that any barrier to sharing stories can cause heartburn for news outlets. A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that about 60 percent of Facebook users get their news there. A recent company announcement of changes in the algorithm that determines what content users see was enough to send shudders through the publishing industry.  

That’s why our little experience with the hemp story seems like the seed of something that could grow problematic. If Facebook is blithely blocking attempts to distribute news stories on topics it deems off-limits, this could have implications far beyond the farm.

CONTINUE READING…

On Good Friday, Presidential Election 2016 Commentaries are open for discussion in the USMJPARTY GROUP…

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March 24, 2016

 

The U.S. Marijuana Party has a Public Group on Facebook which will host a COMMENT SESSION concerning the 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION on GOOD FRIDAY, March 25th.

 

Beginning at 8:00 AM CST tomorrow, March 25th, 2016, the FACEBOOK GROUP of the USMjParty will host a Comment Session on the upcoming Presidential Race for the Whitehouse.

It is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, however you must approved as a MEMBER in the GROUP in order to SUBMIT a POST or WRITE a COMMENT.

IF YOU would like to join us in this very important discussion tomorrow, you still have time to join Our 17,000+ Members at the GROUP LINK below.

We look forward to seeing all of our MEMBERS ideas and commentaries on this most very important ELECTION of the 21st Century!

HISTORY is about to be made this year in the United States!

YOU have a voice in the outcome of this ELECTION!

Above all else PLEASE make sure that you are REGISTERED TO VOTE and UTILIZE that Vote in this ELECTION!

We are looking forward to seeing you all there!

 

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Casper Leitch: FaceBook is censoring activists

 

 

https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-prn2/v/t1.0-1/c30.30.369.369/s50x50/47043_511083858956206_398116326_n.jpg?oh=f896645c351f283b2527e68a676eab71&oe=54F5E0FD&__gda__=1424027838_418020e8d77dffc03b7386621cc9aabd  FaceBook is censoring activists – PLEASE visit my profile often and share my links!

April 25, 2013 at 5:11pm

At first, I thought it was just ME.  But, over time I have encountered SEVERAL activists on FaceBook who SUDDENLY get the same WARNING messages from FaceBook that I have been receiving.  It would seem, to those of us who attempt to reach a LARGE number of our friends, that FaceBook is doing EVERYTHING it can to prohibit the  sharing of REAL information.
When FaceBook forced us all to use it’s new TIMELINE FEATURE – it became impossible, at that point, to control who would have access to any thing and EVERY thing that is posted on the profiles of this social site.  If NOTHING ELSE, advertisers get access to our information – and we know that the government (ie. the DEA, FBI, CIA and HomeLand Security) have free access to our profiles and often times are reading our posts.
At that time, I removed ALL personal information from my profile…every bit of it – my private e-addy, my ph numbers, my real age, who my real family members are, date and place of birth information, current address, likes and dislikes, personal photos…every single bit of it and rebuilt my FaceBook personal profile into an electronic magazine focused on ending marijuana prohibition and preserving Freedom.
Members of the FaceBook community embraced my hard work and the number of friends I have quickly swelled to the 5,000 limit allowed by FaceBook.  Even tho I am the host of a global radio program with a listening audience of over 2-million people, I am still allowed to interact with ONLY 5,000 members of my audience on the worlds biggest SOCIAL MEDIA website.
To overcome THAT obstacle I started the ‘TIME 4 HEMP – LIVE’ page that people have liked and now visit for news in the world of hemp/marijuana that is found at: https://www.facebook.com/Time4HempLIVE
On this page, I post information that is MOSTLY about marijuana with a few posts about our loss of Freedoms.  On my profile page I have gone CRAZY and put up posts about marijuana AND A GOOD NUMBER about our loss of Freedoms along with some links to great music.
I have many well informed friends who post fantastic information that I feel needs to be shared with ALL of my other friends….it seems that FaceBook does NOT agree.
When FaceBook first went to TimeLine – several of my friends requested that I tag them in my posts – and I did.  FaceBook blocked me one day from tagging any of my photos because I was “tagging too many people” in them.  I had about 50 friends that liked being tagged in my images because the images would appear on their profiles and the information attached that I was wanting to share could also reach their friends.  As of now, I am allowed to tag only 4 people per image – if I attempt to do more than that, I can then not tag anyone in an image for 30-days.
To overcome THAT obstacle, I began posting images and URL’s onto my profile and then would re-post them onto the profiles of my friends.  FaceBook won’t allow me to re-post the same image or URL now more than 8 times before they start blocking that option.
To overcome THAT obstacle, I attached my Twitter feed to my FaceBook account and began visiting the profile pages of my friends and sharing THEIR information onto my Profile so my friends could review it and….well, wouldn’t you know it….now FaceBook tells me that I am ”over using the SHARE button and need to slow down other wise be blocked from using this feature for 30-days” and if I should attempt to share more than 25 URL’s or images in about an hours time – I am blocked form using the share button – FIRST for 4-hours and if I keep OVER USING THE SHARE BUTTON that day – then I’m am blocked from using it for 30-days.
Now, I just post EVERY THING onto Twitter (and nearly 9,000 people follow the head-lines that I post at: https://twitter.com/time4hemp – check it out!) and have begun using the marijuana social site established by Todd McCormick more and more to interact with my friends.  The link to that is http://www.HEMP.xxx and is free to join AND does NOT limit how you interact with other members.
I have to say – FaceBook is very successful in censoring activists.  In order for any one to discover the information posted on this profile page – it is now COMPLETELY up to my friends to actually come to my profile page each day and review the new links that I have been able to successfully post to find the information and SHARE IT WITH THEIR FRIENDS.
Instead of being able to get a message out to the 5,000 friends that I have like I could when TimeLine FIRST began…..instead of being able to get a message out to the approximate 2,000 friends that I use to reach when TimeLine was just a few months old….instead of being able to get a message out to the approximate 300 friends that I use to reach when TimeLine was just a year old….instead of being able to get a message out to the approximate 150 friends that I use to reach up until this week – I can now reach about 30 people a day.  For every one else interested in the material I post – they MUST take time to visit my profile and then SHARE any information they discover to be of importance.
THIS IS WHY I AM ASKING that my friends visit my profile OFTEN and make it a point to share and re-post the material that you consider to be important. 
PLEASE READ:
The IRS is spying on you through Facebook, Twitter
http://www.bizpacreview.com/2013/04/08/irs-spying-on-you-through-facebook-twitter-60352
Does Facebook spy on you, even after you’re logged out?
http://www.spywarewarrior.org/newsflash/does-facebook-spy-on-you-even-after-youre-logged-out.html
The Government is Spying On You Through Facebook Right…Now
http://singularityhub.com/2011/05/18/the-government-is-spying-on-you-through-facebook-right-now/
Facebook’s Spying On You For a Good Cause
http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/facebook-s-reading-your-messages-but-it-s-for-a-good-cause#ixzz2RVe1aNki
The FBI Is Spying On You: On Facebook, Twitter & Myspace
http://www.thisis50.com/profiles/blogs/the-fbi-is-spying-on-you-on
Many people watch you every move on Facebook
http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/whos-watching-facebook-213557740.html

CASPER LEITCH ON FACEBOOK

DEA agent sued over Facebook decoy page

DEA agent sued over Facebook decoy page

This image obtained by The Associated Press shows a Facebook page for “Sondra Prince.” The Justice Department said Tuesday it is reviewing a woman’s complaint that a Drug Enforcement Administration agent set up a fake Facebook account using her identity. AP

 

WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration set up a fake Facebook account using photographs and other personal information it took from the cellphone of a New York woman arrested in a cocaine case, to trick her friends and associates into revealing incriminating drug secrets.

The Justice Department initially defended the practice in court filings but now says it is reviewing whether the Facebook guise went too far.

Sondra Arquiett’s Facebook account looked as real as any other. It included photos of her posing on the hood of a sleek BMW and a close-up with her young son and niece. She even appeared to write that she missed her boyfriend, who was identified by his nickname.

But it wasn’t her. The account was the work of DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen, Arquiett said in a federal lawsuit. The case is scheduled for trial next week in Albany, New York.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement Tuesday that officials are reviewing both the incident and the practice, although in court papers filed earlier in the case, the federal government defended it. Fallon declined to comment further because the case is pending.

Details of the case were first reported by the online news site Buzzfeed.

Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. She was accused of being part of a drug distribution ring run by her boyfriend, who had been previously indicted.

In a court filing in August, the Justice Department contended that while Arquiett didn’t directly authorize Sinnigen to create the fake account, she “implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations.”

The government also contended that the Facebook account was not public. A reporter was able to access it early Tuesday, though it was later disabled.

A spokesman for Facebook declined Tuesday to comment on the legal dispute. Facebook’s own policies appear to prohibit the practice, telling users that “You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.”

Lawyers for Arquiett did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages from The Associated Press. Arquiett did not immediately respond to an email asking to discuss the case.

Arquiett said in her filing that she suffered “fear and great emotional distress” and was endangered because the fake page gave the impression that she was cooperating with Sinnigen’s investigation as he interacted online with “dangerous individuals he was investigating.”

The fate of Arquiett’s fight against the government’s use of her identity online is unclear.

A staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation – a civil liberties organization – Nate Cardozo, said the government’s rationale was “laughable.”

“If I’m cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, ‘Can I search your phone?’ and I hand it over to them, my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime – not that they will take things that are not evidence off my phone and use it in another context,” Cardozo said,

Lawrence Friedman, a privacy and constitutional law professor at New England Law-Boston, a law school, said the Arquiett’s “privacy claim rises and falls on the extent to which she consented to what it is the government says she consented to.”

If Arquiett agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and allow her phone to be used as part of that probe – as the government alleged in its court filing – then it would be harder for her to prove that her privacy rights were violated, Friedman said. If her phone were seized without consent, then she would have an easier claim.

“Basically, when you strike that kind of deal, you kind of have to play by the government’s rules,” Friedman said. “This is not the ordinary situation in which the person walking down the street can have their identity stolen by the government,” he said. “She was involved in a criminal investigation.”

AP

CONTINUE READING…

The US government can brand you a terrorist based on a Facebook post. We can’t let them make up the rules

 

Innocent people’s lives are being ruined. Why isn’t anyone watching the watchlist?

Arjun Sethi

theguardian.com, Saturday 30 August 2014 09.00 EDT

 

facebook surveillance illustration

Reasonable suspicion is based on a circular logic – people can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists – that is ultimately backwards, and must be changed. Illustration: Joelle L / Flickr via Creative Commons Illustration: Joelle L / Flickr via Creative Commons

The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be.

As we were reminded again just this week, you can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly, and the consequences can be long and enduring. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information.

This kind of data sharing, however, isn’t limited to the latest from Edward Snowden’s NSA files. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors.

The watchlist tracks “known” and “suspected” terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.

Of the 680,000 individuals on that FBI master list, roughly 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”, according to the Intercept. These individuals don’t even have a connection – as the government loosely defines it – to a designated terrorist group, but they are still branded as suspected terrorists.

The absurdities don’t end there. Take Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a population under 100,000 that is known for its large Arab American community – and has more watchlisted residents than any other city in America except New York.

These eye-popping numbers are largely the result of the US government’s use of a loose standard – so-called “reasonable suspicion” – in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted.

Reasonable suspicion is such a low standard because it requires neither “concrete evidence” nor “irrefutable evidence”. Instead, an official is permitted to consider “reasonable inferences” and “to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience”.

Consider a real world context – actual criminal justice – where an officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a person in the street and ask him or her a few questions. Courts have controversially held that avoiding eye contact with an officer, traveling alone, and traveling late at night, for example, all amount to reasonable suspicion.

This vague criteria is now being used to label innocent people as terrorism suspects.

Moreover, because the watchlist isn’t limited to known, actual terrorists, an official can watchlist a person if he has reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is a suspected terrorist. It’s a circular logic – individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists – that is ultimately backwards, and must be changed.

The government’s self-mandated surveillance guidance also includes loopholes that permit watchlisting without even showing reasonable suspicion. For example, non-citizens can be watchlisted for being associated with a watchlisted person – even if their relationship with that person is entirely innocuous. Another catch-all exception allows non-citizens to be watchlisted, so long as a source or tipster describes the person as an “extremist”, a “militant”, or in similar terms, and the “context suggests a nexus to terrorism”. The FBI’s definition of “nexus”, in turn, is far more nebulous than they’re letting on.

Because the watchlist designation process is secret, there’s no way of knowing just how many innocent people are added to the list due to these absurdities and loopholes. And yet, history shows that innocent people are inevitably added to the list and suffer life-altering consequences. Life on the master watchlist can trigger enhanced screening at borders and airports; being on the No Fly List, which is a subset of the larger terrorist watchlist, can prevent airline travel altogether. The watchlist can separate family members for months or years, isolate individuals from friends and associates, and ruin employment prospects.

Being branded a terrorism suspect also has far-reaching privacy implications. The watchlist is widely accessible, and government officials routinely collect the biometric data of watchlisted individuals, including their fingerprints and DNA strands. Law enforcement has likewise been directed to gather any and all available evidence when encountering watchlisted individuals, including receipts, business cards, health information and bank statements.

Watchlisting is an awesome power, and if used, must be exercised prudently and transparently.

The standards for inclusion should be appropriately narrow, the evidence relied upon credible and genuine, and the redress and review procedures consistent with basic constitutional requirements of fairness and due process. Instead, watchlisting is being used arbitrarily under a cloud of secrecy.

A watchlist saturated with innocent people diverts attention from real, genuine threats. A watchlist that disproportionately targets Arab and Muslim Americans or other minorities stigmatizes innocent people and alienates them from law enforcement. A watchlist based on poor standards and secret processes raises major constitutional concerns, including the right to travel freely and not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law.

Indeed, you can’t help but wonder: are you already on the watchlist?

CONTINUE READING…

Jennica Stein Yesterday at 2:26pm POLICE ARE EVERYWHERE

 

 

Jennica Stein

Yesterday at 2:26pm

POLICE ARE EVERYWHERE

First, this is VERY important to read and understand. I’m doing my best to look out for all the Facebook Users who aren’t as tech savvy as their kids or friends. I’m trying to help explain what’s happening because if I don’t…nobody else will!

If you’re anything like your neighbor…you probably use Facebook on your phone WAY more than you use it on a computer. You’ve been sending messages from the Facebook app and it probably always asks you if you want to install the Facebook Messenger App.

Its always been OPTIONAL but coming soon to your Facebook experience….it won’t be an option…it will be mandatory if you care to send messages from your phone.

No big deal one might think…but the part that the average Facebook User doesn’t realize is the permissions you must give to Facebook in order to use the Facebook Messenger App. Here is a short list of the most disturbing permissions it requires and a quick explanation of what it means to you and your privacy.

Change the state of network connectivity – This means that Facebook can change or alter your connection to the Internet or cell service. You’re basically giving Facebook the ability to turn features on your phone on and off for its own reasons without telling you.
Call phone numbers and send SMS messages – This means that if Facebook wants to…it can send text messages to your contacts on your behalf. Do you see the trouble in this? Who is Facebook to be able to access and send messages on your phone? You’re basically giving a stranger your phone and telling them to do what they want when they want!
Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time – Read that line again….RECORD audio…TAKE pictures….AT ANY TIME!! That means that the folks at Facebook can see through your lens on your phone whenever they want..they can listen to what you’re saying via your microphone if they choose to!!
Read your phone’s call log, including info about incoming and outgoing calls – Who have you been calling? How long did you talk to them? Now Facebook will know all of this because you’ve downloaded the new Facebook messenger app.
Read your contact data, including who you call and email and how often – Another clear violation of your privacy. Now Facebook will be able to read e-mails you’ve sent and take information from them to use for their own gain. Whether it’s for “personalized advertisements” or if it’s for “research purposes” ….whatever the reason..they’re accessing your private encounters.
Read personal profile information stored on your device – This means that if you have addresses, personal info, pictures or anything else that’s near and dear to your personal life…they can read it.
Get a list of accounts known by the phone, or other apps you use – Facebook will now have a tally of all the apps you use, how often you use them and what information you keep or exchange on those apps.

Hopefully, you take this as serious as I do…after reading more about it and studying the permissions I have now deleted the app from my phone and don’t intend to use it ever again. I still have my Facebook app but I just won’t use the messaging feature unless I’m at a computer. Even then, I might not use messaging anymore.

With these kinds of privacy invasions I think Facebook is pushing the limits to what people will let them get away with. I remember when the Internet first began its march toward socializing dominance when AOL would send us CD’s for free trials every week. On AOL, we made screen names that somewhat hid our identities and protected us against the unseen dangers online. Now, it seems that we’ve forgotten about that desire to protect our identity and we just lay down and let them invade our privacy.

There may be no turning back at this point because many people won’t read this or investigate the permissions of Facebook’s new mandatory app but at least I can say I tried to help us put up a fight. Pass this along to your friends and at least try to let them know what they’re getting into.

SOURCE:

Top Stock: Facebook Inc (NASDAQ FB) May Be Tracking Your Cell Conversations

Social Networking Giant, Facebook (NASDAQ FB) may well be tracking all your talks. And this might even be happening when the messenger App is apparently off. As the government spy apparatus can monitor cell phone conversations even when the cell is off – and the battery can’t be removed. This raises further questions about Privacy control from Facebook.

This follows a report on Fox News notes that the Federal Bureau of Investigations can track cell phone conversations even when the phone is turned off. Fox News reports that FBI officials say they use the method to track critical “mafia” conversations.

The answer, notes Fox News host Shepherd Smith, is to take the battery out of your cell phone. One element the report didn’t mention, oddly, is that on most modern cell phones it is now impossible to remove the battery. In other words a powerful spy tool has been created so the NSA and other government agencies can in some cases illegally track your every movement and monitor your every conversation and — it can’t be turned off.

 


Facebook Inc: Facebook Privacy Issues

This comes on top of reports that Facebook (NASDAQ FB) may be tracking your cell phone conversations. Facebook terms and conditions required to accept to install the Facebook Messenger application now say Facebook may turn on your microphone without your permission, take pictures and videos. This information can be passed to the US government, which is working to various degrees with different firms.

According to reports, Twitter is fighting government spying on its users, while Facebook seems to take a more cooperative response. A Facebook spokesperson did not comment. Many in the media continue to overlook the growing intrusive and illegal nature of government. For instance, the most significant issue in modern press era is the Edward Snowden defections. Recent revelations that the CIA spied on the US Senate are a critical piece to explaining why Snowden’s revelations are important – the misuse of excessive spying capabilities – most of the real issues seldom receive attention.

 

CONTINUE READING…

Facebook Manipulated 689,003 Users’ Emotions For Science

June 29: Updated with statement from Facebook.

Facebook is the best human research lab ever. There’s no need to get experiment participants to sign pesky consent forms as they’ve already agreed to the site’s data use policy. A team of Facebook data scientists are constantly coming up with new ways to study human behavior through the social network. When the team releases papers about what it’s learned from us, we often learn surprising things about Facebook — such as the fact that it can keep track of the status updates we never actually post. Facebook has played around with manipulating people before — getting 60,000 to rock the vote in 2012 that theoretically wouldn’t have otherwise — but a recent study shows Facebook playing a whole new level of mind gamery with its guinea pigs users. As first noted by Animal New York, Facebook’s data scientists manipulated the News Feeds of 689,003 users, removing either all of the positive posts or all of the negative posts to see how it affected their moods. If there was a week in January 2012 where you were only seeing photos of dead dogs or incredibly cute babies, you may have been part of the study. Now that the experiment is public, people’s mood about the study itself would best be described as “disturbed.”

The researchers, led by data scientist Adam Kramer, found that emotions were contagious. “When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred,” according to the paper published by the Facebook research team in the PNAS. “These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

The experiment ran for a week — January 11–18, 2012 — during which the hundreds of thousands of Facebook users unknowingly participating may have felt either happier or more depressed than usual, as they saw either more of their friends posting ’15 Photos That Restore Our Faith In Humanity’ articles or despondent status updates about losing jobs, getting screwed over by X airline, and already failing to live up to New Year’s resolutions. “*Probably* nobody was driven to suicide,” tweeted one professor linking to the study, adding a “#jokingnotjoking” hashtag.

The researchers — who may not have been thinking about the optics of a “Facebook emotionally manipulates users” study — jauntily note that the study undermines people who claim that looking at our friends’ good lives on Facebook makes us feel depressed. “The fact that people were more emotionally positive in response to positive emotion updates from their friends stands in contrast to theories that suggest viewing positive posts by friends on Facebook may somehow affect us negatively,” they write.

They also note that when they took all of the emotional posts out of a person’s News Feed, that person became “less expressive,” i.e. wrote less status updates. So prepare to have Facebook curate your feed with the most emotional of your friends’ posts if they feel you’re not posting often enough.

So is it okay for Facebook to play mind games with us for science? It’s a cool finding but manipulating unknowing users’ emotional states to get there puts Facebook’s big toe on that creepy line. Facebook’s data use policy — that I’m sure you’ve all read — says  Facebookers’ information will be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement,” making all users potential experiment subjects. And users know that Facebook’s mysterious algorithms control what they see in their News Feed. But it may come as a surprise to users to see those two things combined like this. When universities conduct studies on people, they have to run them by an ethics board first to get approval — ethics boards that were created because scientists were getting too creepy in their experiments, getting subjects to think they were shocking someone to death in order to study obedience and letting men live with syphilis for study purposes. A 2012 profile of the Facebook data team noted, “ Unlike academic social scientists, Facebook’s employees have a short path from an idea to an experiment on hundreds of millions of people.” This study was partially funded by a government body — the Army Research Office — and via @ZLeeily, the PNAS editor on the article says this study did pass muster with an Institutional Review Board, but we’ll see if it passes muster with users.

In it’s initial response to the controversy around the study — a statement sent to me late Saturday night — Facebook doesn’t seem to really get what people are upset about, focusing on privacy and data use rather than the ethics of emotional manipulation and whether Facebook’s TOS lives up to the definition of “informed consent” usually required for academic studies like this. “This research was conducted for a single week in 2012 and none of the data used was associated with a specific person’s Facebook account,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible. A big part of this is understanding how people respond to different types of content, whether it’s positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow. We carefully consider what research we do and have a strong internal review process. There is no unnecessary collection of people’s data in connection with these research initiatives and all data is stored securely.”

Ideally, Facebook would have a consent process for willing study participants: a box to check somewhere saying you’re okay with being subjected to the occasional random psychological experiment that Facebook’s data team cooks up in the name of science. As opposed to the commonplace psychological manipulation cooked up advertisers trying to sell you stuff.

CONTINUE READING….