Since news of the Facebook mood manipulation study came out, the Internet has been up in arms, accusing the company of ethical wrongdoing. While CEO Mark Zuckerburg and the public relations department have not commented, second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg issued an almost apology.
“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated," Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told The Wall Street Journal, "And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you."
Let's be very clear: this is not an apology. Because she is not sorry. We have not received an apology from Mark Zuckerburg because he, too, is not sorry. Facebook is fundamentally in the business of mood manipulation, although it generally takes the form of targeted advertising.
Posting the status "I'm sad, but shoe shopping with my girlfriends makes me feel better" can lead to Zappos advertisements for high heels appearing on your page. "My partner and I broke up, I can't wait to be single" logically leads to dating advertisements. Facebook capitalizes on our mood shifts, perpetuating the feeling of happiness or sadness we have shared through bordered advertisements.