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Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB) "Experiment" Is One More Freedom Slipping Away

It's Independence Day tomorrow, so here's a story about your freedom to think about and act on.

News came to light this week that a Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) data scientist named Adam Kramer conducted an experiment on 689,003 users of the social network site over a seven-day stretch in January 2012.

It's news for a few reasons.

Some people are ticked off that they may have been used in an experiment without their knowledge. Some of the subjects of the experiment may have been teenagers.

And some people, namely folks at the UK Information Commissioner's Office and the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland, are looking into whether European Union privacy laws were broken.

Facebook wants us to believe it's all a big kerfuffle over nothing.

But it's not. It's a demonstration that corporations and the government are taking away more and more of our rights to privacy and freedom.

And today, I'm going to show you how we're letting those rights slip through our fingers…

Another Right Bites the Dust (Thanks, FB!)

So what if some people got good-manipulated (as in feeling good and uplifting) news feeds and some people got bad-manipulated (as in depressing) news feeds to see how they'd react and how it affected their social interaction with peers? We'll never know.

At the time of the experiment, Facebook's Terms of Service policy said user data could be used to improve Facebook's products. In May 2012, FB added the phrases "internal operations" and "research" to the policy.

That means Facebook changed the rules after the fact.

Title: FB_dislike - Description: FB_dislike

So what? Who reads all that blather anyway?

Kramer, the not-so-mad scientist who ran the study, said, "The reason we did this research is because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product. We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out. At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends' negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook."

That's thoughtful. The 100 or so scientists FB employs are just thinking about the company's 1.3 billion users – and how to make their day.

But Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum had another take on it – one that is decidedly less… altruistic.

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

About the Author

Shah Gilani is the Event Trading Specialist for Money Map Press. He provides specific trading recommendations in Capital Wave Forecast, where he predicts gigantic "waves" of money forming and shows you how to play them for the biggest gains. In Zenith Trading Circle Shah reveals the worst companies in the markets - right from his coveted Bankruptcy Almanac - and how readers can trade them over and over again for huge gains. He also writes our most talked-about publication, Wall Street Insights & Indictments, where he reveals how Wall Street's high-stakes game is really played.

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  1. H. Craig Bradley | July 4, 2014


    Well, at least Adam Kramer is no Dr. Josef Mengele. However, you can see there are few hard rules at Facebook other than "the end justifies the means" ( more earnings). Historically, this approach to life or business has caused plenty of suffering. The fact most people don't care should indicate where we (society) could be heading. Troubling possibility

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