"Facebook manipulated about 700,000 of its users' newsfeeds, to see if changes could alter the users' emotions."
Spoilers for Hannibal here, you have been warned.
I read this and think of the look of terror on Will Graham's when he realizes that Hannibal Lecter committed horrible murders, interfered in investigations, psychologically tormented him, and did all manner of other terrible things just to see what would happen. Is manipulating people just to see what happens just so inhuman that it disturbs us?
From "On the Pale Criminal" from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra";
Hearken, ye judges! There is another madness besides, and it is
before the deed. Ah! ye have not gone deep enough into this soul!
Thus speaketh the red judge: "Why did this criminal commit murder?
He meant to rob." I tell you, however, that his soul wanted blood, not
booty: he thirsted for the happiness of the knife!
But his weak reason understood not this madness, and it persuaded
him. "What matter about blood!" it said; "wishest thou not, at
least, to make booty thereby? Or take revenge?"
And he hearkened unto his weak reason: like lead lay its words
upon him—thereupon he robbed when he murdered. He did not mean to
be ashamed of his madness.
And now once more lieth the lead of his guilt upon him, and once
more is his weak reason so benumbed, so paralysed, and so dull.
What a bizarre world.
And that's a fine point for anyone who already thought of Facebook as an immoral company that persistently manipulated people to commodify them. Or perhaps this is a case where the experiment provides us with the backdrop to see how bad Facebook has been the whole time? I don't know, I guess I already thought they were pretty bad.
And this the crux of the problem, Facebook is not a human being. We feel there is something inhuman about what it is doing, that is because it is not human. People don't make human decisions on behalf of the companies they work for. If your child is a psychopath then yes, the only thing they will learn from moral lessons is to avoid being caught. Large corporations make decisions more like psychopaths than they do like normal people.