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Facebook’s new Research Guidelines still skeptical, say Experts

Experts referred to the improvements made by Facebook to boost their research practices as a step forward, but far from a leap forward.

Outside researchers criticized the new policies citing that they lack any significant change and that they will only slightly improve already biased research.

It’s interesting that Facebook now comes under fire for their research practices because many don’t think of the social networking giant as a contender in the social media research category. However, being the best in a given sector of the tech world requires it. Facebook has to understand their current users, as well as the behaviors of future users if they want to control the social networking world, and continue pushing forward in the online advertising arena.

This actually could be the greater tell. It would appear as though Facebook is working to not only improve their core product, but improve their ability to target ads at their users, and to be able to deliver on the advertising promises that they’ve already made – and the ones they’ve verbally committed to with promising a product in Atlas that could and would challenge AdSense on that front.

Facebook announced that they would put into effect some new guidelines for the research they conduct on their site particularly. The focus is going to be on training, a review panel of experts, and ensuring that education about research practices are incorporated into Facebook’s six-week training for any new engineers to the company.

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Perhaps, the most interesting of that bit of information is the review panel. It will consist of subject-matter experts. That means the individuals that are on this review panel could change from time to time, and in theory will require the research team to be better educated prior to conducting the research.

However, it still isn’t good enough for many. Especially, researchers from the outside. But, introducing more individuals from the outside – a solution that many have said would be a great idea – would be risky for a company that keeps a majority of their information held close to their chest.

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For many, it’s simply a question of ethics. Facebook appears to have overlooked the word ethics in their new guidelines. It begs the question about who the company is conducting their research on, and how that could potentially impact security or privacy.

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