On the NewStatesman, Laurie Pennie wonders when we'll start to worry about Facebook's abuse of power if it can not only alter our moods but also have an impact on voting patterns. Most disturbingly, because there is no precedence, what Facebook has done will "influence how the corporate powers of the future understand and monetise human emotion."
Nobody has ever had this sort of power before. No dictator in their wildest dreams has been able to subtly manipulate the daily emotions of more than a billion humans so effectively. There are no precedents for what Facebook is doing here. Facebook itself is the precedent. What the company does now will influence how the corporate powers of the future understand and monetise human emotion. Dr Adam Kramer, the man behind the study and a longtime member of the company’s research team, commented in an excited Q & A that “Facebook data constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world.” The ethics of this situation have yet to be unpacked.
I put a number of questions to Facebook’s representatives, including Dr Kramer, over the course of three weeks of phone calls, emails and direct messages. I was repeatedly told that Adam Kramer was too busy to talk to me and would remain too busy for the foreseeable future, although Dr Kramer himself told me that he couldn’t speak to me without the say so of the press team. Facebook were unavailable for comment. Facebook went to some lengths to be as unavailable as possible for comment without directly telling me where to shove my inquiry. Facebook were unavailable for comment in the way that a man who, on hearing the doorbell, runs out of the back door and over the garden wall is not at home to visitors.
I asked if it was possible for users to find out if their own newsfeeds had been altered. No answer. I asked if it was possible for users to opt out of any further such studies. No answer, but if I’d got one, I suspect it would have been “no” – all users agree implicitly to be experimented upon when they sign up for the service. I asked if anyone had bothered to check up on all the people in whom negative emotions were apparently induced. No answer.
|The 'Turn a Quote into a Masterpiece' Generator|
|The Turkish revolution will be Vined|
|Punk Rock and SEO mistakes|
|Onion Terminal: Xterm in a Browser|
|Hate-speech law violates Charter rights, tribunal rules|
|Everything We've Learnt About the Surveillance State|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|“The cost could be so near to zero it will effectively be free.”|
|Go the Fuck to Sleep: A Children's Bedtime Book|
|“He portrays these abandoned malls as apocalyptic ruins.”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|“Rejuvenation is Finally an Industry.”|
|Google Map Shows You the Most Photographed Areas of the World|
|“Lifting the electric motors out of Teslas and putting them in the chassis of other, formerly gas guzzling cars.”|
|Sensually Retro Illustrations by Simone Massoni|
|“Put words between buns.”|
|Good Fucking Design Advice|