The Switchboard: Facebook responds to mood study backlash

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

Everything we know about Facebook's secret mood manipulation experiment "For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service," reports Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic. "This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it."

Facebook responded to the criticism, The Post's Gail Sullivan reported, and said the study complied with both academic and company standards. Still, Facebook employee and paper author Adam D.I. Kramer said in a company post, “Our goal was never to upset anyone. I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

Regulation Around Bitcoin Starting to Clear, Says Circle CEO "Bitcoin watchers today will be anxiously waiting for the results of an auction of 30,000 bitcoins seized last year as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crackdown on the Silk Road online marketplace for illicit drugs," reports the Wall Street Journal's Amir Mizroch. Jeremy Allaire, founder, chairman and CEO of Circle, told the Journal that, "while there was still regulatory uncertainty around bitcoin, the 'clouds were parting,' with governments, banks, and traditional institutional investors beginning to take a serious interest in the cryptocurrency."

Tech takes hit from NSA "U.S. tech companies are taking a financial hit more than a year after Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs," says The Hill's Julian Hattem. "All told, the NSA’s actions could cause American Web companies to lose as much as $35 billion by 2016, according to analysis from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. That would represent a loss of 20 percent of the foreign market. Forrester Research, a research firm, predicted that the losses could be as high as $180 billion over the next two years."

Akamai: Global average web speed up 24% annually to 3.9 Mbps, 20% of connections now above 10 Mbps "The global average internet speed is continuing its steady increase, growing 1.8 percent quarter-over-quarter and 24 percent year-on-year to reach 3.9 Mbps, according to Akamai, which today published its quarterly State of the Internet report for Q1 2014," reports The Next Web's Kaylene Hong. "However, the global average peak connection speed — an average of the maximum measured speeds across all the unique IP addresses seen by Akamai for a particular geography, representing internet connection capacity — declined 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 21.2 Mbps, dialing back on the strong growth seen last quarter."

Aereo hits ‘pause’ button on service, will issue refunds to customers "Streaming television service Aereo pulled the plug on its service Saturday, at least temporarily, after the Supreme Court ruled this week that its business is illegal," wrote The Switch's Hayley Tsukayama. "All subscribers will be refunded for their last paid month, Aereo chief executive Chet Kanoja said in a letter sent to customers and posted on the company's Web site."

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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Hayley Tsukayama · June 28, 2014