Facebook is being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office

Facebook is being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK after a survey showed a psychological experiment influenced what others looked in their news feeds, raising new privacy concerns.


A company researcher apologized on June 29 for a test in January 2012 that altered the number of positive and negative comments that almost 700 000 users saw on their online feeds of articles and photographs.

Revelation of the experiment prompted some members to express outrage on Twitter about the research as a breach of secrecy.

An ICO spokesman said on Tuesday that the representation would be speaking to Facebook and working with the Irish data protection commissioner to determine more around the conditions.

It was looking into whether the company broke data protection laws, though it was too early to tell what clauses Facebook might have encroached

The Irish commissioner’s office had been in contact with Facebook on privacy matters, including consent in intercourse to the research, and was awaiting a full company report, a spokesman for the office alleged.

Facebook’s compliance with EU law is governed by Ireland because the social network’s European headquarters are in Dublin.

“It’s clear people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it,” Richard Allan, a spokesman for Facebook in the UK, said. “We desire to manage better and are improving our process based on this feedback.

“The work was performed with appropriate protections for people’s information and we are happy to do any questions regulators may have.”

Agreeing to a survey issued on June 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the number of positive and negative comment users saw on news feeds was changed in January 2012.

People shown few positive words were found to write more negative posts, and vice versa, the trial of random Facebook users found.


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