Image courtesy: http://rocksimage.com/facebook-logo-wallpaper-47298/
Why don’t we trust Facebook to “not be evil” the way we trust (or seem to trust) Google? Is it an outreach thing? Is the faceless wall of Google less intimidating than the faceless wall of Facebook?
And now, we have the breaking (or broken) news emerging that Facebook has been experimenting on it’s users by hilighting posts in a specific stripe (depressing or uplifting, shall we generously say) to see how the readers will react. But this kind of data collection is not new. Not really. Advertising agencies have spent decades testing out how their ads make people feel, they test to see if the picture with the guy in the blue short sells more cookies than the picture of the guy in the red short (if you get deep into ad-psych you’ll find they’ve tested race, hairstyle, clothing style, background, should the person own a dog or a cat, etc. etc).
We do this kind of A/B testing in mobile apps all the time. Know why so many icons on your phone have smiley, happy bobbleheads on them, even if they’re not in the game? Yep. We tested for that. You like faces. Go figure.
So I am given to wonder how deep this kerfluffle with Facebook goes. Is this just a spin tactic layered over some garden-variety testing to see how users react to ad placements? Or is it genuinely the kind of emotional manipulation that the headlines are touting?