This comes after they published a study that turned into a PR disaster
October 3, 2014: After a study on people’s emotional behaviour carried earlier this year backfired, Facebook on Thursday announced that it has come up with a new review process for pre-approving research.
The emotional contagion study published in June was the result of an experiment carried out in 2012. Facebook had tweaked the number of positive and negative posts in the newsfeeds of randomly selected users to see how it affected their own posts. When the results were made public, Facebook was accused of manipulating users’ emotions.
A statement authored by chief technical officer Mike Schroepfer said, “Over the past three months, we’ve taken a close look at the way we do research. Today, we’re introducing a new framework that covers both internal work and research that might be published. We’ve created a panel including our most senior subject-area researchers, along with people from our engineering, research, legal, privacy and policy teams that will review projects falling within these guidelines. This is in addition to our existing privacy cross-functional review for products and research.”
Schroepfer said that though the research conducted by Facebook was important, the backlash took them by surprise. “Although this subject matter was important to research, 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,” said Schroepfer.
“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. It’s important to engage with the academic community and publish in peer-reviewed journals, to share technology inventions, and because online services such as Facebook can help us understand more about how the world works,” he added.