Mind Control by Cynthia Rogers at Pinterest
By a member of the staff who prefers to remain anonymous
There have been many reactions to Facebook’s disclosure of their recent “experiment” in manipulating the content of news feeds in an effort to learn how the tone (positive, negative) of posts in the news feed affect the user’s mood – at least as assessed by the positivity or negativity of the user’s next post. I am one of the many appalled by this little “experiment” by Facebook. My question to readers and government officials is this: Where are the controls on Digital Companies?
I have found the willingness of Americans and others to throw away their right to privacy distressing for some time. Yes, I use social media and digital channels daily. I use them for business and for our clients’ business interests. Social media have become a necessary evil for marketers. That does not mean I am willing to sacrifice my right to privacy or my right to use a communication channel or platform without someone presuming it is acceptable to attempt to manipulate my communication with others or play mind games without my knowledge IN ADVANCE. Doing so without seeking permission in advance is a clear violation of my right to privacy and to be safe from psychological or other attempts to manipulate my thoughts or actions.
By my interpretation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other laws, this is clearly illegal and should be prosecuted and punished. Further, it is unethical and unconscionable behavior toward one’s customers. Finally, it is an act of unmitigated arrogance and disrespect for others. There is no justification or rationalization on the part of Facebook’s employees and owners that could make these actions tolerable.
To the general public, I urge you to wake up and take stock of the amount of personal information you are blindly giving away on social media and consider the other illegal and unethical uses people could make of the information. I implore you to stand up and align yourselves with those who would protect all of us from exploitation and manipulation by unscrupulous companies and individuals. Finally, I call upon all appropriate Federal and State agencies to prosecute this abuse by Facebook and upon Congress to enact strong laws to protect those who are blind to the ramifications of allowing such behavior.