Digital Privacy takes a New View with Facebook, Data Scientists
This Week’s News of the Mood Manipulation Experiments conducted by Facebook’s Data Science Team Gave the World yet Another peek at the goings-on at the World’s Largest Social Network, Which Now counts 1.3 Billion Users ITS and digital privacy Practices.
Apparently, in 2012, the team conducted an experiment in which the news feeds of nearly 700,000 Facebook users were manipulated to show more positive or negative posts. The study found that users who saw more positive content were more likely to write positive posts, and vice versa.
The goal? Sentiment data, as it is known, is useful when pitching products to specific audiences. Members of a social network who post generally positive content are more likely to write positive comments and testimonials about a particular brand, and obviously more likely to spend more time on the social network.
This in turns encourages advertisers to spend more with the social network, as positive, organic reviews can serve as the main creative for several of Facebook’s advertising units.
Sentiment data is one of the older metrics in social media marketing. Companies and brands are constantly measuring sentiment, and reaching out to those active users who post happy, enthusiastic content surrounding that brand.
That Facebook is engaging in this practice should come as no surprise to anyone in the social media world. Apparently, these Facebook experiments have been carried out hundreds of times. Facebook has managed to evade issues of digital privacy and data usage, and obtained consent in another way – by changing its Terms of Service (TOS) agreement with users. The agreement formerly indicated that user data could be used to improve Facebook’s products; the TOS now say that user data may be used for ‘research’ and that takes care of the digital privacy terms.
Our take on Digital Privacy of our users
We at PurpleSlate view this news with pause. We feel that this is not only a clear invasion of digital privacy but also a manipulation of audience data which in the end harms users. PurpleSlate does not sell advertising units, and users will never see ads alongside their invitations invading their digital privacy.
Likewise, users’ mobile numbers data will not be used to send spam-like text messages, touting irrelevant products or services, for which they did not opt in. We at PurpleSlate feel that a mobile number is perhaps one of the most private pieces of personal data – and one that a user actually pays for – and compromising the digital privacy for that would breach our users’ trust.
Additionally, you cannot share your invitations or invitation-related content (messages, photos, audio clips) on Facebook or other social networks via the PurpleSlate app. It is yours, to be shared with the host and other guests. You control the distribution – no one else.
We do believe that companies should strive to improve their products, and utilizing audience data to further hone the user experience is not only smart, it’s just a good business practice. But a company should be forthright about the manipulation of such data, or at the very least, inform users that they are being included in a research sample.
What do you think? We’d Like to Hear your Opinion.
Posted by Jake Wengroff on July 5, 2015.I have served as the Founding Chairman of the Social Media Strategies Summit, and have written for publications such as CMO.com and InformationWeek. I have been quoted in Time, Reuters, Bloomberg, and other publications on the topics of social media and marketing. If you enjoyed reading this post, join our email list to get free email updates.
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