The more I think about this secret Facebook psych test the more I’m disturbed by it. And not in the outrage de jour kind of way, either. Facebook is a company with nearly a billion daily users and no compunction regarding screwing with their emotional state. What does it say about a company that would do such a thing with apparently no idea normal non-Facebook employees would be horrified by it? Reading their reaction to the outrage, it seems as though they’re truly blindsided by it. Unbelievable.
Every successful corporation has a kind of cultural DNA that motivates their actions. Facebook’s DNA is truly and deeply screwed up. It’s like the company is run by a group of aliens who only somewhat understand how humans work and only have that insight based on analyzing social graph data.
This episode raises all kinds of questions for me. How big is too big in social media? Who will ensure companies like Facebook are acting in an ethical manner? How can misuse of their power to influence us (either by them or third parties) be safeguarded against?
I guess, in a way, it’s a good thing Facebook stumbled face-first into this pile of horseshit in the innocently and socially clueless way they did. Now we know what can be done to us by them. How will we respond? And when I say “we” I mean everyone since that’s approximately Facebook’s user base. Every damned one.