“There’s a tendency to look at online environments as if they’re not real,” Thompson said. “The problem is for these individuals participating the relationships they have are every bit as real. The data clearly shows the researchers were imposing emotional distress on people.”
“[With ads] you are not trying to actively manipulate their emotional states,” he added. “You are not trying to actively alter their social interactions. Weakening or strengthening bonds between their friends.”
Thompson said he was hesitant to speak on future backlash from users since the social connections and capital made on social media platforms are not transferrable.
“Facebook and other forms to argue the lack of consumers abandoning their platform is essentially a form of tacit consent,” he said. “The problem with that is these platforms are designed to lock you in. To make it so they cannot switch.”
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