But university officials didn't inform professors or their students that they were being monitored. Bol says that was to make sure that the data gathered was accurate, and he added that the research wasn't designed to track particular students or analyze professors. Instead, professors were provided the data after the research was completed.
The incident raises concerns over how and when a community can be studied for research without their knowledge. A balance must be struck between maintaining useful data without compromising privacy. Many believe Facebook
similarly crossed that line when it altered hundreds of thousands of users' News Feeds for a psychology experiment that was revealed this summer. In its defense, Harvard says that that a federally-mandated review board approved the project, though officials note that the assistant undergraduate dean will be consulted for any similar projects in the future.