Jul 1, 2014

Data Science: What the Facebook Controversy is Really About

Posted by in category: ethics

— The Atlantic

Facebook has always “manipulated” the results shown in its users’ News Feeds by filtering and personalizing for relevance. But this weekend, the social giant seemed to cross a line, when it announced that it engineered emotional responses two years ago in an “emotional contagion” experiment, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Since then, critics have examined many facets of the experiment, including its design, methodology, approval process, and ethics. Each of these tacks tacitly accepts something important, though: the validity of Facebook’s science and scholarship. There is a more fundamental question in all this: What does it mean when we call proprietary data research data science?

As a society, we haven’t fully established how we ought to think about data science in practice. It’s time to start hashing that out.

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  1. United States pragmatism dictates that pure knowledge cannot stay pure for long and must be applied. The point of Facebook Data Studies coming from manipulations markedly different from what we share as a good mood in the city because we are all experiencing the good weather is mass mind control which is easier to understand by studying North Korea, China, Stalinist Russia and the USSR and then back looping to Bernays Wilson era ability to get the isolationist US to love WWI.