Warner Asking For Answers Over Controversial Facebook Research - WSET.com - ABC13

Warner Asking For Answers Over Controversial Facebook Research

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Lynchburg, VA - Senator Mark Warner Wednesday requested the Federal Trade Commission look into how Facebook executed an experiment back in 2012.

The company manipulated the newsfeeds of hundreds of thousands of their users, without them ever knowing.  Warner asked the FTC if changes need to be made to the industry and if users need to be more careful with what they post online.

Can Facebook control your feelings? It's not so farfetched.  A 2012 experiment did just that, controlling content on 700,000 newsfeeds to see if positive and negative posting is contagious.

"Let's come up with some rules of the road or guidelines so that people can know what kind of privacy expectations and what kind of data use expectations they have as they go on these sites” said Senator Mark Warner in an interview with ABC 13 on Wednesday.

Warner wants a solution from the Federal Trade Commission to protect users' privacy and make sure users are not unknowingly agreeing to social media studies.

"I think the better result here would be if industry and technologists would kind of sit down together and not have government intervention to start with, but come out with rules of the road where there was a little bit more clarity to customers about how their information was being used” he said.

According to Facebook, users agreed to this study, however maybe not knowingly.

The company's data use policy reads "We may use the information we receive about you… for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement."

Facebook users were a little surprised by what they agreed to.

"That shows how many people read the fine print, because I sure didn't! No, I didn't either” said one woman.

Warner said he's not looking for any strong handed government intervention.  What he wants is an industry solution before he said this all gets too out of hand.

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