British Regulators Investigate Facebook ‘Emotional Contagion’ Study For Possible Violation of Data Protection Laws

Given the ire Facebook draws when it makes changes to its interface, it’s not surprising that users and governments are hitting the roof over Facebook’s acknowledgement that it ran psychological tests on people. British regulators have already announced plans to speak with Facebook about the experiment, and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has apologized.

Facebook may be in trouble with regulators over accusations that it ran psychological experiments on unwitting users.
Facebook angered users and regulators alike when the company tested its ability to affect user emotions.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the British watchdog group that will be investigating whether Facebook violated the law when it attempted to influence users’ emotions. The social network’s experiment, performed on more than 600,000 users in 2012, manipulated newsfeeds to determine whether certain types of posts could cause users to create positive or negative posts.

Whether Facebook ends up facing the music for this experiment or not, it doesn’t plan to tempt regulators in the future. The company has said that it is taking responsibility for the test and is evaluating the way it handles situations like this.