Sheryl Sandberg Kind Of Apologizes For Facebook Emotion Manipulation Study

Posted: Jul 3 2014, 1:15am CDT | by , in Advertising News


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Sheryl Sandberg Kind Of Apologizes For Facebook Emotion Manipulation Study

The Facebook emotion contagion study has finally reached the executive level. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the word “apologize” in reference to the study that involved nearly 700,000 Facebook users in January 2012, but she made it into one of those classic corporate “We’re sorry if this offended you” apologies. Via the Wall Street Journal:

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said while in New Delhi. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

Her wording is maybe not the best there. Part of why people are so upset is that Facebook did mean to upset some of them as part of the study. Translation: Facebook is not sorry for doing the emotion contagion study. It was done in the normal course of business. It is sorry that everyone is upset about the fact that it purposely made some users upset a couple years ago.

Executives at Facebook will likely need to say more about the study, as BBC News reports a UK regulator is pushing Ireland — which has jurisdiction over Facebook in Europe — to launch a formal probe into the study. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission which was formalizing a 20-year consent decree with Facebook at the time, may take issue with the involvement of users under the age of 18 in the study and the fact that Facebook didn’t add notification about users’ information being involved in “research” until after the study happened.

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