Facebook's experiment on users - what would it take for you to finally quit? [POLL]

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks

Have you had enough with Facebook?Facebook is taking heat once again for perceived invasion of privacy, after it disclosed a research experiment conducted on users without their explicit consent.

Facebook researchers revealed this week that they had conducted an experiment on nearly 700,000 users back in 2012, involving manipulating their news feeds to gauge responses to greater or lesser negative news.

An outpouring of indignation (and already one government investigation) has caused the social media giant to backtrack - slightly.

A Facebook spokesperson said the study was "done with appropriate protections for people's information," but the social media giant is "happy to answer any questions regulators may have."

Was it ethical for Facebook to attempt to manipulate users' emotions, as it has admitted doing in its experiment?

Adam Kramer, the designer of the experiment and lead author of the study, admitted that the value of the research may be outweighed by the anxiety it has caused.

Even if the experiment was legal and ethical, Facebook has a pretty long history of pushing the privacy envelope - with many past privacy violations and security slip-ups.

Remember, it took 10 years for Facebook to finally make public sharing opt-in for new users - those who are least likely to understand the social network's privacy settings.

It should be noted that, in recent months, Facebook has taken some steps to give users more control over their privacy settings.

Meanwhile, people's responses to this experiment differ wildly, running from outrage to "so what" indifference.

Previous polling of social media quitters has found that those who do leave are generally much more concerned about their privacy than a typical Facebook user.

Was Mark Zuckerberg right when he said in 2010 that privacy is outdated and overrated?

These are complicated questions, and given Facebook's huge influence on our lives, it seems that some people are just fine with giving up some of their privacy to use it.

On the other hand, there's an argument to be made that users of any service, including Facebook, have every right to demand respect for their privacy.

Some nations in Europe seem to have a much more conservative approach to online privacy than in the US - and yet, people's attitudes towards privacy are definitely moving in the direction of more openness.

Has Facebook finally gone too far? Let us know what you think. Take our poll and sound off in the comments.

And be sure to come back next week - we'll dig into the results and add our own thoughts.

Take our poll

Image of thumbs up and thumbs down courtesy of Shutterstock.

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23 Responses to Facebook's experiment on users - what would it take for you to finally quit? [POLL]

  1. Anonymous · 428 days ago

    not very good options are they ?

    • yeah that poll is kind of lame. My problem is: nothing else out there really compares to FB, G+ tries but it's hard. And what the point of floating over at G+ if none of my family and friends go over there? That's why I'm stuck. I tried to get people to move over there but no one responded. Maybe FB blocked my posts :P

  2. Cathy · 427 days ago

    I think you are missing an option for your poll - No. But if it gets worse I will quit.

    • 4caster · 427 days ago

      Quite right, Cathy. I have given Facebook very little information, and don't mind them sharing the little that I have given them.

  3. Ivor Massey-Vaas · 427 days ago

    Facebook is very well aware that its latest antics may cause a few thousand desenters to leave its nefarious world, but the core 5 billion 'sheep' will stay. This consists of a few billion users who would stay with Facebook even if it sent mad scientists to perform physically invasive experimental surgery on them.

    And I agree with Cathy, there are not enough options in the poll.

  4. Liam · 427 days ago

    I don't rely on naffbook's feed. Create your own custom list and use that

  5. Bill · 427 days ago

    Very poor options.

  6. I have to agree with the comments. My answer is "None of the above"

    • n0vice · 427 days ago

      Sorry Paul! I wanted to vote you up not down! I mis-clicked! D:

  7. Anonymous · 427 days ago

    Don't put any information on FB you don't want everyone to see.

  8. Gravesender · 427 days ago

    I agree that having more options would have been nice. The privacy issues worry me, but what might end up pushing me off is the increasingly annoying number of 'recommended posts' I'm seeing.

  9. Anonymous · 427 days ago

    I have to stay with FB for some clubs etc that have closed groups with info I need to access. But I never check it apart from for that, have no friends on it, don't update it. Is that almost not using it?

  10. MM · 427 days ago

    Since the 'social' part of it was a joke (Did anybody I actually knew even care I was there? Nope.), and the games were horrible, the only thing I counted on was the newsfeed - which now we find was compromised. One thing no one wants to seem to mention - who says they ever stopped? Once they added that little 'clause' to the sign up process, there was no incentive for them to stop.

    I mostly used them to promote stuff on Google + anyway.

    Just because they're Facebook doesn't mean that what they say is the truth.

  11. Andrew · 427 days ago

    PRIVACY is down to the individual

  12. I'm with "Anonymous" in that I must use it to communicate with some people/companies. I don't update, most of the information is erroneous or outdated. Besides, I understand you "can't quit Facebook" as everything stays there anyway!?! It would be nice to be able to make them release your data, when asked.


  13. Freida Gray · 427 days ago

    When I signed uo for Facebook,it was with the understanding of 2 things
    (1)according to the ToS then in effect,I owned my content.Now it seems they have decided that they own it.
    (2)I would be able to see everything,negative or positive that my friends posted.Now it seems that they have the right to decide which posts I will be able to see.

  14. John · 427 days ago

    So... did any Facebook user suffer any consequences at all from this experiment? Just asking...

    • Oleta · 425 days ago

      Yes, they did no ethical checks of the users so some of those users will have had depression, they can conceivably have exacerbated that condition, it was horribly sociopathic of them not to consider that even a small effect for someone who is already depressed can be catastrophic. As someone who works in Mental Health I am completely disgusted that they felt no responsibility to these people at all.

  15. QuittingFacebook · 427 days ago

    I am finding the link to "Take our poll" is dead, even after I turned off my privacy extensions. I've decided to get off facebook and take down 2 organizations' pages that I maintain, effective July 31. I don't condone slimy ethics and choose not to continue encourage others to through the organizations I am involved with. As a society we lose our integrity one little morsel at a time until we have lost all of it, unless we fight back one tiny little morsel at a time.

  16. i don't put any really personal things out on facebook because i have always believed that it would be stupid to do so. i go there, i play a game, read interesting things that people have posted, share my disdain for big business, GMO manufactures, greed and corruption with like-minded individuals. their using private information doesn't affect me personally. it can be a useful and interesting place if one uses it responsibly.

  17. LonerVamp · 424 days ago

    Just like MySpace and other services before it, FaceBook will be left behind when something else more hip and cool comes out and does the right things to attract the core users in some group; something that fixes just a few of the main problems with FaceBook (the spammy superficiality that is hard to avoid).

  18. Randy · 423 days ago

    What will it take to make me quit? Well, I haven't logged on to FB in almost 2 years. Can't say I miss it much.

  19. hal · 417 days ago

    Problem to me is not Facebook itself but how people started to use it. Is more a vanity thing than a communication platform. So who has time for such stupidity? So I just gave up trying to communicate or interact with people long time ago. They pretended to be superstarts and I have no time for pretensions. Also many women use it to post selfies and nobody is interested into that shit. I have better time seeing a model or just porn. More interesting.

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About the author

John Zorabedian is a blogger, copywriter and editor at Sophos. He has a background in journalism, writing about technology, business, politics and culture. He lives and works in the Boston area.