Though it has been lost in the mists of other scandals, back in 2014, Facebook was in the middle of what was then the biggest public relations debacle in company history. That June, a Facebook data scientist and two academics released a paper demonstrating that users could be emotionally manipulated based on the information Facebook’s engineers fed into their accounts.
The conclusions of the study were alarming. But even more shocking was the means by which researchers reached them. Facebook had used 700,000 of its users as social science guinea pigs without their consent. Not only could Facebook manipulate its users; it had manipulated them, without any regard to the ethical implications.
A firestorm of bad