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US privacy watchdog EPIC files complaint before FTC against Facebook

Facebook is likely to face charges for the use of user data in its “Emotional Contagion” experiment after an official complaint was filed by a privacy watchdog EPIC before FTC in United States.Facebook revenues increase

US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received the complaint from privacy group Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) for the investigation of Facebook’s experiment. The one study involved manipulating the feeds of more than 700,000 users in order to find any change in the emotions of users. Facebook had mentioned that it had taken “appropriate” steps to protect users privacy.


EPIC mentioned in the complaint:

“Facebook conducted the psychological experiment with Cornell University and the University of California, San Francisco, who failed to follow standard ethical protocols for human subject research.”

FTC has found Facebook of violating an order imposed in July 2012 that is valid for 20 years in order protect user’s privacy. The consent made Facebook to improve its privacy and security of user data. Earlier, FTC has found Facebook guilty of changing friend lists to public without any notice to users. EPIC also pointed out that Facebook controversial experiment had broken the laws imposed by FTC.

Authorities in the UK are also investigating Facebook’s experiment for violation of user data. EPIC wants Facebook to hand over the algorithm that was used for the study and pay damages.

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook apologized by saying “We never meant to upset you. It was poorly communicated and for that communication we apologize” to the press in India. Facebook has declined to comment on the complaint.

In the complaint filed by EPIC, it used the comments and tweets by Facebook users to show the outrage of users, as shown below:

Many Facebook Users Object to the Facebook Core Data Study

  • Mashable user “ageekylink .blogspot.fr” commented, “Facebook should not be manipulating people’s data without their consent. What they did was really wrong.”

  • @realretroguy tweeted “May be time to start looking for an alternative to Facebook……what else can they manipulate?”

  • DoNotGoGently@‏( tweeted “Shame on @facebook for cynically misinterpreting informed consent. Shame on PNAS for publishing the study.”

  • wildfyre99 posted “I’ve already cancelled and removed my account. I urge everyone else who is tired of Facebook’s abuse to do the same.”

  • Zee Chen posted “It is just so wrong. They violated and went beyond what we would expect when we sign that TOS. I think everyone knows they use us for ads

[ Full Complaint here (pdf file) ]

About Bhanu Jamwal

Living in Aldine, TX, he writes about Mac, iOS, Android and IT Hardware. Apart from writing on The Next Digit, he is also an expert in providing valuable seminars on IT Peripherals and IT Security. All posts by Bhanu

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