After releasing the findings of their psychological A/B testing earlier this summer, Facebook has dropped another bombshell: they have revised their privacy policies, data policies, and research guidelines.
Though Facebook has not been charged with any illegal actions officially, there have been complaints filed and a lot of user backlash over them manipulating users through A/B testing to discover more about the social responses that occur depending on what users on the site are exposed to. What was the problem? Users were unaware of the fact that they were part of an experiment.
While it is unclear whether or not it was truly illegal (the answer might be yes, considering their policy did not clearly state that data would be used in this way, though I digress), there is a more interesting issue at hand. Facebook has released revised Research Guidelines, as well as information about the process through which they will now train and guide their employees to complete proper research.
But there is still no mention of ethics, or any mention of having experiments properly approved by review boards. While Facebook says they will become more connected with the academic community to prevent any further problems with their research methods, they do not clearly state that they will correct the glaring problems in their system.
Still, guidelines are a start, and you have to start somewhere! My next hope is for clear guidelines, limitations, and more clear policies with users, but I think I might be dreaming.