Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Facebook experiment and the 300 Dollars an hour.

Facebook from the Tanaklogia by Tarek Chemaly
In case you have not heard, Facebook is under fire for "a vast experiment in which it manipulated information posted on 689,000 users' home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of "emotional contagion"." The sutdy was done in conjunction with academics from Cornell and the University of California. Basically the results are that whenever someone is expressing an emotion, other people tend to express it, which prompted the incomparable Charlie Brooker to comment, "[e]motional contagion is what we used to call "empathy"."
One of the perks of the experiment is that it did not notify its subjects that they are participants, something the ethics code of conduct stipulates must be done, specifically the "Nuremberg code" which was established after the (in)famous trials.
So a possible "breach of ethics" is being investigated. At first Facebook said that the experiment was covered within its policy, however, it was only later - which means four months after the experiment too place - that the word "research" was added tot heir terms of use.
The exceptions are when legal consent is impossible to get or when notifying the subject would prevent a fair use such as the remarkable Miligram experiment which brings out the beast in people, and which was based on the words of Nazi holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann who - during the afore-mentionned Nuremberg trials - said "I was just following orders" by way of defense.
However, I mention this because it reminded me of the joke about a girl coming up to a teacher, engaging in small talk with him, whispering in his ear, then shouting" "What? You want to sleep with me?" in front of his packed classroom causing the teacher of course major public humiliation. Moments later she comes back and explains, also by way of ear-whispering to her "subject" that she is doing a psychological experiment to monitor people's reaction to public embarrassment. To which the teacher shouts "What? 300 Dollars an hour?".
Sure, this could fall under the exception of the "Nurmberg code" but wouldn't it be nice to compensate the Facebook users for their efforts with 300 Dollars an hour?

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