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I understand that they crossed a line ethically. Can they however get away with this legally? How is a Facebook user protected legally from such experiments where real people are subjects

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Unless someone can demonstrate they or someone they knew were tangibly harmed by the experiment (which i guess would lead to civil suits of some kind), Facebook should be in the clear. They need only point to the terms and conditions and data policies that every single test subject and user agrees to to access the service. At most, I can see them being forced to be more explicit in defining what they mean when they say 'research' in their terms, and perhaps requiring direct consent from users in future. But as someone who works in advertising, I see (and use) some form of emotional manipulation everyday! If Facebook is found guilty of something, where would one draw the line? Would we ban or require consent forms for movies, music, wall paint, lighting, temperatures, shop layouts etc that make us a bit sad or gets us into a spending mood or make us so happy we jump up and down until we pop a knee? It will be interesting to see how this develops
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Katherine Sledge Moore, a psychology professor at Elmhurst College, Illinois, said: "Based on what Facebook does with their newsfeed all of the time and based on what we've agreed to by joining Facebook, this study really isn't that out of the ordinary."
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