Virginia Senator Thinks Facebook's Emotional Experiment Might Have Broken An Agreement With The Government

Facebook’s experiment manipulating 700,000 people’s moods is catching the attention of more than just the usual Facebook user. On Wednesday, Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Facebook’s now-infamous project violated an agreement it held with the government, Re/code reports.

Facebook is currently in the middle of a 20-year agreement with the FTC that requires it to seek consent from users in order to experiment with them, said the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The company purposefully messed with people’s minds,” the group wrote in a July 3 complaint to the FTC.

The experiment, which Facebook has now apologized for, might lead to new policies, including the government regulating these types of large-scale social media studies, though Warner believes that might not be the best course of action, he wrote in his letter to the FTC.

“Further studies like this, without proper oversight or appropriate review, could have a significant impact upon a large number of consumers,” Warner wrote. Later in his note he added, “I am not convinced that additional federal regulation in the answer. Public concerns may be more appropriately addressed through industry self-regulation.” He called these sort of issues surrounding privacy, social networks, and the law “uncharted territory.”

For now Facebook is continuing its streak of repentance.

“It’s clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it,” a spokesperson told Re/code. “The study was done with appropriate protections for people’s information and we are happy to answer any questions regulators may have.”

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