A reader quotes Poniewozik:
Suppose The New York Times, or ABC News–or TIME magazine–had tweaked the content it displayed to hundreds of thousands of users to see if certain types of posts put readers in a certain frame of mind. The outcry would be swift and furious–brainwashing! mind control! this is how the biased media learns to manipulate us! It would be decried as not just creepy but professionally unethical. And it’s hard to imagine that the publication’s leadership could survive without promising it would never happen again.
It’s hard not to read this and immediately think of the new trend of advertorial content. I mean, isn’t this exactly what the advertorial is supposed to accomplish? To put you in a frame of mind where you’ve put your guard down because you don’t realize what you’re reading is an advertisement and not a more “objective” take from the publication? I think Poniewozik may have missed the boat on this one.
Another illustrates what your future on Facebook could portend:
Think they are trying to improve humanity? Or do you think they are trying to see how manipulating information may drive the actions of users, which in turn will help them do more targeted advertising? They know that younger people use their service more than any other media or app … the numbers are staggering. So if they can manipulate what information is provided to there subjects, and that manipulation sets the user’s frame of mind, then it potentially makes the user more pliable when it comes to targeted ads.
It is simple: create a bad mood … then insert Zoloft ad. Imagine reading all the anxiety producing news of the day and then see another article – I mean a Zoloft ad staged as an article – that gives you means of relief. Given that Zoloft can shotgun ads to people on other sites, or KNOW that the people seeing their product on Facebook will be of the proper disposition, what do you think that is worth?
The beauty of the whole thing is that Facebook EULA’s [end-user license agreement] appears to have been written by Peter Cook’s character in Bedazzled. Who needs ethics when you have profit and market share? And why would anyone think that a for-profit corporation will do the right thing and not betray your confidence when their risk analysis spits out “cha-ching!”?
If you log into your Facebook account and then have the irresistible urge to eat Taco Bell for breakfast and purchase a dildo for the office, you might want to consider getting your news elsewhere.