The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

July 1, 2014

Did Facebook study invade users privacy? Valley residents weigh in

— DANVILLE – With the recent revelation that Facebook used 700,000 of its users as unwitting guinea pigs in a psychological study, some Valley residents are reconsidering their relationship with the social network.

A recently published study in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science” revealed that in 2012 Facebook manipulated the news feeds of a small percentage of their users by either exposing them to more good news or more bad news. The experiment was meant to determine if positive or negative posts on a Facebook user’s feed would influence what the user posted on his or her own Facebook page.

Facebook claims that permission to use this kind of data manipulation without permission is covered under the terms of use people agree to when signing up for an account with the website.

At Danville restaurant Brew N Bytes, Danville residents Remy Perez, 17, and Phoebe Kishbaugh, 20, both think Facebook should have asked users before tampering with their news posts.

“We should know what is being filtered,” Kishbaugh said. Both said they visit the website on a daily basis. However, neither said they are less likely to abandon the service as it has basically “cornered the market” for social media.

“If you’re in a study, you should know you’re in a study,” added Barbara Schaffer, of Northumberland. She did not like how Facebook only mentioned using members in a study in the fine print of their terms of use.

“Nobody reads those contracts,” she said.

She plans to continue using Facebook, in part due to more controls given to users for what shows up in their feeds and what doesn’t in the last year or two.

She also said that she’s certain her personal data has been used in worse places than Facebook’s study.

“We don’t know where our personal data’s being used any more,” she said.

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