Facebook vows to improve user research practices (so we're not just guinea pigs)

New guidelines, however, are light on details

Facebook is promising to be more careful about how it conducts research on users, with a deeper review process by top managers when particular groups of people or types of content are studied on the site.

However, the company did not say whether it would include outside researchers or regulators in its review process. Facebook also did not clarify how it would determine whether a particular study is ethical. Nor did it say under which circumstances, if any, it would tell users when they are included in a study.

But an enhanced review process will take place before research can begin, said Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer at Facebook, in a Thursday blog post. Further review will take place if the work involves collaboration with someone in the academic community, he said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

The company has created a review panel, including subject-area researchers and employees from its engineering, research, legal, privacy and policy teams.

Education around the firm's research practices will also be incorporated into Facebook's six-week training program for new engineers.

The guidelines come after Facebook took a close look over three months at the way it does research, Schroepfer said. The framework covers both the firm's internal work and also research that might be published.

Facebook faced a backlash from users and touched off a controversy earlier this year over a study in 2012 in which it changed which posts users saw in their feeds based on emotional content to measure the effect on users' moods. Many people characterized the study as Facebook toying with or manipulating their emotions.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center lodged a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about the research, saying that Facebook "purposefully messed with people's minds" in the "secretive and non-consensual" study on nearly 700,000 unsuspecting users.

"It is clear now that there are things we should have done differently," Schroepfer said Thursday.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and serviceslegalsocial networkingsocial mediainternetFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?