It was a remark­able result: By manip­u­lating the news feeds of thou­sands of Face­book users, without their knowing con­sent, researchers working with the goliath of social media found that they could spur a sig­nif­i­cant, if small, effect on people’s behavior in the world beyond bits.

The year was 2010. The sci­en­tists were poking at voting pat­terns in the U.S. midterm elec­tions. And when the results came out two years later, in Nature, there was barely a peep about ques­tion­able ethics.

As you may have heard, a more recent study, con­ducted by Face­book and co-​​designed by researchers at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, has kicked off a vig­orous debate about the influ­ence of Facebook’s algo­rithms over our lives and, more specif­i­cally to academe, whether researchers should be more careful in how they col­lab­o­rate with the social-​​media giant.

Read the article at Chronicle of Higher Education →