The ethics of making people sadder (or how to write attention getting copy!)*
When I opened my daily newspaper early this morning the above title immediately caught my attention and I began to read the article with avid interest!
The article raised questions about whether Facebook behaved unethically when it conducted a clandestine experiment without informing or obtaining permission from its 1.2 Billion + users. The kind of study they initiated is described as a form of "sadness induction", deliberately manipulating its users (maybe even be some of our Wealthy Affiliates !)
I have always been fairly critical of Facebook as I do regard their particular brand of social engineering as sneaky and underhand in the extreme! In other words "proof positive", not just a crank perception, that the behemoth has no ethical basis on which it operates!
Counter intuitive stance?
Lest I be dismissed as a crank or labelled as an out and out hypocrite I must immediately confess upfront, that I actually do use Facebook....(more as a convenient channel) to keep in contact with a small circle of “friends” and family whom I like to think of as "real" people ... you know, the kind one usually interacts with in the physical world, across a dinner table etc. Anyway I’m sure the shadowy figures at the helm of FB would probably find the few messages I post on their platform to be mundane and mostly boring…yay for the rebels and freedom fighters amongst us , way to go!
My fascination with Facebook (pun intended) began fairly early during the giddy “freedom” days of the internet and is partly derived from the old adage : “Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer!” Perhaps we need to unite and hold a global “tea party” to remind ourselves what digital freedom really means!
Compromise or betrayal?
As I write this I am also acutely aware of the fact that I am using a proprietary piece of software to draft this blog (mainly for the spell checker) before transferring it to WA and I’m sure Richard Stallman the founder of the Software Freedom Foundation would not approve of my allowing myself to be “digitally handcuffed in this way! Sorry Richard, my hands may be restricted and sullied but I am contrite of heart and have not abandoned the cause!
Big brother is watching!
Its open to debate, whether the Facebook experiment created suicides but the article gives, in my opinion.,a reasoned and masterful analysis of the FB study and contends amongst other findings that the ethical failures of the study are in no way excusable, “consent from human research subjects wasn’t asked for, nor were the subjects debriefed after the fact.”Sounds mighty like the arrogant actions of “Big Brother” and the “Thought Police” in the George Orwell dystopian novel “1984”
The author of this article, Jordan Ellenberg goes on to unpack many of the related issues that the study throws up, and ends off with some telling perspectives on “emotions and physical well-being including one from social science: viz that “sad people buy more stuff”
Summing it up.
His ending paragraph sums it up expertly and succinctly:
“From the point of view of social science, making millions of people’s lives imperceptibly sadder is an ethical red flag.But for a company whose survival depends on turning ad views into money, maybe it’s just business.”
Beware fellow Wealthy Affiliates “Big Brother” is indeed watching........ he's actually not just watching, he’s manipulating as well! :-)
Read the full article here: