Over at my Business Ethics Blog, I just posted my thoughts on the recent controversy over the Facebook / Cornell study. I look at the question not of the ethics of the Cornell researchers, but of Facebook as a corporation I basically argue that:
a) the risks involved were trivial;
b) the commercial context matters, and permits certain kinds of experimentation;
c) the study was, from Facebook’s point of view, closer to ‘program evaluation,’ (i.e., closer to a kind of study that is normally exempt from research regulations anyway).
You can read the whole thing, here: Facebook’s Study Did No Wrong.
Here also is the view of 33 bioethicists, published in Nature, saying that while prior ethical review would have been a good idea, the study was not fundamentally unethical:
Misjudgements will drive social trials underground.