The study has since come under considerable criticism for its lack of upfront transparency, and potentially damaging effects. Attempting to minimize the negative perception of the study, Adam Kramer, one of Facebook’s researchers, claims the effects were actually quite small. Others have pointed out, however, the actual impact of the study is irrelevant, as final results could not have been known prior to its completion. The complaint alleges that “at the time of the experiment, Facebook did not state in the Data Use Policy that user data would be used for research purposes.” EPIC argues the company, currently required to protect user privacy by a 20 year agreement with the FTC, conducted the study illegally and unethically.
EPIC is not the only group attempting to take action against Facebook. Center for Digital Democracy director Jeffrey Chester claims he, too, has contacted regulators, and his group is also considering filling an official complaint. Currently, they plan to speak to the FTC during the next week about what they perceive to be a violation of law.
(Photo courtesy of Eston Bond)