Last year, Facebook landed in hot water after it was discovered users had been emotionally manipulated in a scientific study without their knowledge.
Now the social network has launched a new "formal review process" before approving any study that will turn users into experimental guinea pigs, according to TechCrunch. It will also use a Research At Facebook website to centralize academic data.
“We were unprepared for the reaction the paper received when it was published and have taken to heart the comments and criticism. It is clear now that there are things we should have done differently," Facebook said about the study. "For example, we should have considered other non-experimental ways to do this research. The research would also have benefited from more extensive review by a wider and more senior group of people. Last, in releasing the study, we failed to communicate clearly why and how we did it.”
Facebook isn't changing how users give consent because that's already taken care of in its reportedly iron-clad Terms of Service agreement. Instead, the new rules just give scientists clear guidelines and ensures Facebook can make them jump through more hoops if the study is controversial.
"We believe in research, because it helps us build a better Facebook. Like most companies today, our products are built based on extensive research, experimentation and testing," wrote Facebook’s chief technology office Mike Schroepfer.
This means that experiments will continue on Facebook users, but Facebook wants to monitor the possible blowback beforehand. It seems to us that the social network would like to cancel the more controversial studies, but still keep making money on scientific research.