No Time for Mind Games – Facebook and Test Studies

Facebook is one of the premiere gateways to communicate with friends and family, and a significant avenue to promote a business. Facebook recently admitted to conducting a test study involving approximately 700,000 users (the process of the organization obtaining the consent of study participants is questionable). The recent testing procedures conducted by Facebook raises concerns for users privacy and overall well-being.

Based on the rules and regulations of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), it is the ethical and sound responsibility of an organization to obtain the voluntary consent of human subjects. Consent to participate in research is the, “cornerstone of ethical experimentation involving human subjects.” The implications involving the mental health and well-being of individuals selected by Facebook for testing must be evaluated. A significant amount of research exists that connects mental imagery to psychological well-being (i.e., depression, suicide, etc.). It is imperative that social workers continue to protect individuals, children and families from ethical and human rights violations.

Written By Angela Henderson, Ph.D
Executive Director of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP Inc.)

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