Published On: Wed, Nov 5th, 2014

Facebook Using Its Users Again


Facebook, it has been reveled, once again toyed with its users and manipulated their news feeds. It did so during the 2012 elections in the U.S., according to a report in Mother Jones. This was revealed while Facebook tries to look good by asserting that it resists all the government requests that it gets for its users’ information.

Come on Facebook. Have you no shame?

The company is basically a monopoly. Does anyone even remember My Space or Google Plus? But even monopolyies need to be careful not to alienate their customers. This is especially true when your product is something that people can live without, unlike water or air.

There may be no soda monopoly in the world, but Coke and Pepsi are both seeing sales of their soft drinks plummet due to health concerns about sugar drinks.

Apparently Facebook placed news stories shared by a user’s friends at the top of updates that appear on a its users’ pages. This was done as part of a social experiment which wanted to determine if exposure to such stories increased the likelihood that someone would vote on Election Day.

The company only acknowledged the experiment after the cat was already out of the bag. Its excuse for keeping it secret was he same on that it used for last summer’s debacle when Facebook was revealed to have manipulated positive and negative news feeds to its users. The researchers, Facebook asserted, needed the study to be kept secret until they could publish their findings.

As a Facebook spokesman told the Huffington Post the researchers wanted, “to see how some users engaged when general news stories shared by their friends were given slightly higher rankings. Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that encouraging civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community.”

So Facebook used us as guinea pigs to get people to do their civic duty and vote? Thank you Facebook.

On the bright side they are trying to stop governments from raiding their users’ private postings.

Facebook revealed that in the first six months of 2014, governments around the world made 34, 946 requests for data. Governments say that the information is needed to catch serious criminals.

“We’re aggressively pursuing an appeal to a higher court to invalidate these sweeping warrants and to force the government to return the data it has seized, ” the company said in a blogpost.

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