Facebook recently revealed that it collects data about the content users type but don’t actually post. The site used the information for a study about user self-censorship, though their tactics for gathering the information have spooked some Facebook users, including Michael McTernan, who created an online petition on Care2.org asking Facebook to stop the practice. So far, the petition has collected 28,000 signatures.
“I think the fact they released a study on user behavior that acknowledges people do this, and that Facebook sees this as a problem, is a huge red flag,” McTernan wrote. “Also, the fact the study was released and they are being pedantic about whether or not the content is collected is indicative of a corporation with fast and loose ethics.”
However, a spokesperson for Facebook told Mashable last Friday that the site does not collect this user information. Facebook’s study also did not look at the content of messages, but instead only analyzed the length of the post and the duration of time it sat in the message box before the user decided not to post it.
Still, as McTernan pointed out, the fact that Facebook would commission this study in the first place shows that they are deeply interested in what causes users not to share. There probably isn’t a malevolent purpose behind it, but the fact that they’re looking at all is enough to make some users uncomfortable.