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Facebook has a ready-made excuse for people who are upset that it conducted a massive psychological experiment on some 600,000 users — they all consented to it as part of Facebook’s user agreement, which says that the company may use their data for unspecified “research.” However, Forbes did a little digging and found that Facebook didn’t add “research” as an acceptable use for user data until months after it conducted its infamous experiment.
“In January 2012, the policy did not say anything about users potentially being guinea pigs made to have a crappy day for science, nor that ‘research’ is something that might happen on the platform,” Forbes reports. “Four months after this study happened, in May 2012, Facebook made changes to its data use policy, and that’s when it introduced this line about how it might use your information [for research].”
What this means, to put it bluntly, is that Facebook couldn’t even be bothered to cover its ass with legalese before it engaged in a huge experiment aimed at manipulating the moods of hundreds of thousands of its users.
So how is Facebook going to defend itself this time? If a spokesperson’s statement to Forbes is any indication, it seems the company is going to argue that users should just assume they’re being used for research regardless of what their user agreements may or may not have actually said.