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March 28 2018

Serious question: What makes the FB emotion study different from product design that’s been going on for decades?

BJ Fogg (more about Prof Fogg here)

As someone that previous did data-driven product design for a living, perfectly captures in this tweet my confusion over the public’s reaction to FB testing how emotion can be swayed by content in the newsfeed.

How is this different from what is now roughly two decades of data-driven design in web development? The designer optimizes for a goal using hypothesis testing, the same way a marketer inside Procter and Gamble has been using data-driven approaches to pricing and packaging in geographically isolated regions of the country (old school A/B testing) for nearly a century. No one would fathom asking P&G “where’s your IRB?” In fact, no one would fathom asking Google for an IRB approval for their hundreds of simultaneous live A/B tests in Gmail as recently as two weeks ago.  So, why now? What unspoken ethical line did Facebook cross? 

I think people are generally uncomfortable with the idea that their emotions can be swayed by social media, and are looking for some way in which this must be a violation of an existing ethical norm. But the two issues are orthogonal. The emotional power of social media is wild and scary. It currently is (and will continue to be) a means of manipulation. But that has nothing to do with the rational product development testing process that has been in place for decades, which provided evidence of social media’s emotional power. The public outcry feels much more like a reaction to the outcome of the study than the methodology, but people are thrashing about in their reaction, and so methodology is getting dragged into the mud in this emotional mess.

The whole uproar feels quite confused to me… a pathos response misusing logos arguments to compensate.

(via thegongshow)

It’s not that difficult. The relationship between P&G is simple. We are customers, they try to market their products to us and we choose to buy it or not. In contrast, Facebook is supposed to be a neutral place where you talk to friends. It is not their job to mess with the content, just as the postal service is not supposed to mess with the letters it handles. The facebook experiment is like your local grocery store opening up P&Gs cereal boxes to secretly add more sugar and then see if we buy more cereal. This behavior breaks is a big breach of trust.

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November 18 2012

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than. silence.
...
me?
aggressive?
no shit.
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November 17 2012

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