How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

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Biggsy1988
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How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by Biggsy1988 » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:57 pm

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2 ... rchers-say


So Facebook conducted some research on its users which involved a manipulation of the material visible in their news feed to see if it altered their emotions. It has been heavily critiqued for not gaining informed consent from the participants who were unaware they were in a research study. I admit I don't know the full details of the study but based on what I do know I am concerned that Facebook see no problem with an attempt to directly affect people's emotional states without gaining consent or debriefing participants. I don't think they can argue the terms and conditions of usage covers this.

What are people's thoughts on this?
When it comes to dreams one may falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them - Alexander Grayson (Dracula 2013)

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Biggsy1988
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by Biggsy1988 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:41 am

When it comes to dreams one may falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them - Alexander Grayson (Dracula 2013)

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miriam
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by miriam » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:31 pm

Well done BPS for responding to this. And shame on Facebook for doing research without informed consent and ethical approval. But I guess that's what happens when you get a tobacco regulation person, a facebook data cruncher and a communication academic rather than a mental health professional or a psychology researcher to conduct what amounts to psychological research.
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by miriam » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:06 pm

BPS research digest with all the links about this issue is here:
http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co. ... utcry.html
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maven
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by maven » Thu Jul 03, 2014 10:23 pm

Interesting how this has polarised people into two camps either "a lot of fuss about nothing, they can do what they want with our data, it was effectively market research, and adverts have always manipulated us" and "science needs proper process, ethics and consent, and we need to apply that to anyone handling data on a large scale or intervening in people's lives". The latter might seem more comfortable, but has huge implications on market research and digital service providers - google are collecting and manipulating our data all the time.

More links that are relevant:
Forbes articles (scroll down for prior articles on this topic)
Past Facebook research
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Biggsy1988
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by Biggsy1988 » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:54 am

I personally wouldn't mind if facebook used my data for certain demographic purposes e.g. how many users are females of X age group. I would expect the terms and conditions cover this. My problem with this research was the likely potential for emotional harm and lack of informed consent.

Although as Maven points out google are already manipulating our data already. Perhaps this is a consequence of the digital age we now live in. :|
When it comes to dreams one may falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them - Alexander Grayson (Dracula 2013)

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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by baa » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:48 pm

Also, with Facebook, it's not your data, it's theirs. As soon as you upload anything, it doesn't belong to you. The terms and conditions cover a whole host of things, if you watch the South Park episode - humancentIpad then that might make you read them :?
At least I'm not as mad as that one!

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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by miriam » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:40 pm

Not true Baa. That is legally pretty much the case in the USA, but in Europe our data belongs to us, even if handled by a US corporation.
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by enid » Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:28 am

Pretty certain that is the case with facebook - this is widely discussed...and also has always been the massive problem and off-putting thing about facebook. You upload a pic of your kid to fb, that pic then belongs to fb and they are free to do with it whatsoever they see fit. Take home msg is: don't upload your pics to fb!

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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by maven » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:00 am

Nope, legally not the case in Europe. The various EU data protection policies (of which the UK Data Protection Act derives) make it clear that you own your information and you consent for it to be used in several highly specific ways, but it does not become the property of a corporation, unlike in the USA (where banks own your bank statements, and the police don't require a warrant to get that data, which is not the case here either). The 'Safe Harbor' agreement means the EU rights apply even if it is a US company or data is on a US server.

Here is a Charlie Brooker comment on the debate.
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Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by enid » Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:44 pm

Hmm, think this is wrong - have debated this widely in very knowledgeable cricles...techie and legal geeks and the like. If you even use their apps there is something about them having access and owning your data and info. Facebook is very dodgy, don't trust it!!

I am loathed to link to the Daily Telegraph and wish I could find something better - but here you go:

" Facebook
With over a billion users, Facebook is the definitive homepage for many web users. Its terms of service, data use and cookie use policy span more than 14,000 words over eight separate pages and would take even the quickest reader more than two hours to dig through. But what rights have you handed over to Facebook?

Specifically for photos and video uploaded to the site, Facebook has a license to use your content in any way it sees fit, with a license that goes beyond merely covering the operation of the service in its current form. Facebook can transfer or sub-license its rights over a user’s content to another company or organisation if needed. Facebook’s license does not end upon the deactivation or deletion of a user’s account, content is only released from this license once all other users that have interacted with the content have also broken their ties with it (for example, a photo or video shared or tagged with a group of friends). "

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Campion
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by Campion » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:18 pm

miriam wrote:Well done BPS for responding to this. And shame on Facebook for doing research without informed consent and ethical approval. But I guess that's what happens when you get a tobacco regulation person, a facebook data cruncher and a communication academic rather than a mental health professional or a psychology researcher to conduct what amounts to psychological research.
I'm quite insulted by this post, as should reasonably be expected. The implication being that none of these people (including comms academics) can be expected to have an understanding of social science research, or pay any heed to the ethics involved, which is at best deeply patronizing.

So they managed to find a communications theorist who had no problems with doing this? I'm not surprised that they could frankly, indeed, I would have thought you could get someone from any relevant field in academia. If they wanted to, do you genuinely believe they couldn't have found a psychologist? Or do psychologists never get involved in dodgy research?



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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by miriam » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:52 am

They'd get struck off if they did, as we have a Code of Conduct and a regulatory body to enforce our ethical process. Anyone from any professional or academic background should be wary of extending beyond their competency.

I stand by the position that a team with no expertise in psychology or mental health is not in a position to be doing ethical research when it comes to manipulating people's emotional state.

However, in this case, I suspect they've over-claimed and the research is actually about how changing communications received changes communications sent, rather than having any idea about the emotional states of the people involved. That is more within the domain of the researchers' expertise, but still raises huge concerns about experiments with human participants that may impact on their mood.
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sarahg
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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by sarahg » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:47 am

I don't think the issue is that the experiment had the potentially to 'alter' somebody's mood. As from a current ethical stance, the risk to participants was no greater than that they would be exposed to on a day-to-day basis. The issue rather, is more associated with the lack of consent.

Moreover, I can equally understand why people are very much in two camps regarding this research. Facebook alters ours news feed continually, using complex algorithms to decide upon the content we view based on previous choices, including adverts. This is something we are mostly, or should be aware of - it happens on many websites. However, to re-iterate, the main issue is the research conducted by Facebook further highlights major flaws with the use of online personal data, the manipulation of online content and the potential involvement in research that the public have not consented to. If these issues are not addressed, then there is an increased likelihood that the above risks will perpetuate.

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Re: How Not To Do Research.....by Facebook

Post by BenJMan » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:45 am

sarahg wrote:I don't think the issue is that the experiment had the potentially to 'alter' somebody's mood. As from a current ethical stance, the risk to participants was no greater than that they would be exposed to on a day-to-day basis. The issue rather, is more associated with the lack of consent.
Hrm.. if the issue is not about the issue of altering mood (or responses based on emotion, however you phrase it), then what exactly is there a lack of consent to? The issue of deliberately altering mood and response seem to me to be the only thing done differently to normal, which I think you highlighted in your other section?
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

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