This month, Holly, our intern and recent graduate in Psychology from Warwick University takes a look at what Facebook knows about you…

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You may have recently read about Facebook’s controversial study on emotion which involved manipulating the content of nearly 700,00 users’ newsfeeds to include either more positive or more negative posts. US privacy pressure group, Epic, filed an official complaint demanding that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate Facebook’s actions. In some ways, it was the last straw for many of us who already feel an invasion of privacy from these social media giants.

Most of us are aware of the potential pitfalls when using social media; a lack of privacy, questions over content ownership, possible damage to your career…the list is endless. It gets confusing when we happily use these networks only to later discover the true extent to which some corporations collect and store our personal data.

Research from Skandia reveals only 7per cent of Britons read the terms and conditions of a service before registering. Comforting to know I’m not the only one but shocking nonetheless! Some may argue that this lack of attention to detail should automatically waiver our right to privacy but will this jolt you into pledging to read through hundreds of conditions?

Facebook may also have contradicted themselves: for years, users have asked for a ‘dislike’ button and for years Facebook has refused. They argue that “Facebook tends to focus on positive social interactions and ways to express positive sentiment.” Surely the nature of this study falls short of their previous positivity?

Having studied Psychology at university, I’ve had all the basic Psychological ethical issues drilled into me. All participants should give informed consent for their data to be collected and analysed. Although this may bias results, a lack of it goes against all ethical standards of Psychological practice. There are also growing fears that the data collected could be used for other unethical activities such as voter manipulation during political campaigns.

Perhaps we’ll never discover just how much Facebook knows about us. Will this study stop the 1.28 billion users that currently the site almost everyday? I don’t think so. I think our love for sharing, liking and communicating is sure to triumph any feelings of betrayal.

Inevitably, the furore over this topic will peter out into murmurs of disagreement and disgust. And where exactly will all this occur? Why, on Facebook of course.

To read more on this subject, and understand just what this snapshot of metrics from Buzzfeed means-  its data they collect about you! – check out this blog post http://barker.co.uk/buzzfeediswatching

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