Facebook is catching a lot of hell right now because of this ridiculous “emotional contagion” study. I think there are a lot of legitimate questions and concerns about how this experiment was designed and conducted, but I have a suggestion for how Facebook might avoid the kerfuffles and do a lot of good for science. Here goes:
At the beginning of some period of time — like a month — they could post a giant opt-in screen to everyone’s newsfeeds:
This month, we are opening our data and newsfeeds to researchers. All experiments have been through an ethics review. None of the data used will be sold or used directly as part of a business strategy. If you’d like to participate, click YES. If not, click NO. At the end of the month, we will tell you which studies you were in — if any. And we’ll alert you when the results are published so you can see what we learned.
As a FB user, my posts are private, but I would love to open my data up to science like this. And I would like to know what my data was used for and what they found.
Seems like good fun and good PR to me!