We recently joined Prof. Jerry Kim’s Management of Innovation and Technology strategy class to discuss digital therapeutics and the ethics of experimenting with user data.
The class began with a discussion of two Facebook user experiments:
- 2012 voting experiment to see if home page messages could influence people’s likelihood of going to the polls
- 2014 emotional contagion experiment, where Facebook tried to influence user mood by changing what appeared in users’ newsfeeds
Though it was a spirited discussion, the class largely concluded that the emotional contagion experiment was the less ethical of the two because Facebook deliberately tried to make some users feel bad.
With this context, we gave an overview of n*gram health, doubled down on the first rule of healthcare (“do no harm”), and discussed some of the considerations associated with conducting user research while building technology-based medical interventions.