Outrage over these experiments could suggest that we too readily trust that data is essentially neutral or “honest.” But clearly, social media informs the structure of our interactions and how we exist and identify ourselves through them. As Rudder points out, our formation as online subjects is already manipulated and shaped by the scientists who create these digital platforms. Consistently, the interests of consumer capital are a driving force here. We were never just sets of pure data, floating together in neutral cyberspace.
The furor over the infamous Facebook experiment seems to have died down, but OkCupid has resurrected the debate with an admission of its own. Some comdemn their actions, some argue that this is the way websites operate- end of story.
But like the dangerous distinction between public and private, Natasha Lennard believes there's a dangerous dualism between the concept of on- and offline. The danger inherent in that distinction leads data scientists to toy with our lives, even if they believe they're only toying with an algorithm.
Read OkCupid and Facebook Aren’t the Only Ones Manipulating You, but That’s No Excuse on Vice News or save it for later.