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Loyola Digital Ethics presentation: “The Ethics of Twitter Research: A Topology of Disciplines, Methods and Ethics Review Boards”

Today I have the great privilege of presenting the preliminary results of a research project exploring the ethics of Twitter-based research, co-authored with Nick Proferes, at the second annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics, hosted by the Center for Digital Ethics & Policy at Loyola University Chicago. The abstract and slides are available below. Look […]

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Thoughts on Privacy and the Use of Facebook to Recruit Research Subjects

Recently, I was approached by a team of researchers concerned with the research ethics issues related to using Facebook to recruit human subjects. Specifically, the team was planning to use Facebook advertisements in order to target certain users for a research study evaluating the effectiveness of a particular educational strategy aimed at decreasing the occurrence […]

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Virginia IRB Consortium Presentation: “Research, the Cloud, and the IRB”

On Friday October 12, 2012, I will be delivering the keynote address at the Virginia IRB Consortium Conference at the University of Virginia. My talk is “Research, the Cloud, and the IRB” (slides are below). While the presentation shares some of the same DNA from my recent presentation at the University of Pittsburgh, this talk […]

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Pitt IRB Presentation: “Research Ethics in the 2.0 Era: New Challenges for Researchers and IRBs”

On Friday October 5, 2012, I will have the great pleasure of presenting my work on “Research Ethics in the 2.0 Era: New Challenges for Researchers and IRBs” for the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board Educational Series. I’ve discussed these issues in smaller disciplinary settings, as well as much larger national meetings of IRBs, […]

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New Entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Internet Research Ethics”

I’m thrilled to announce that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has published a new entry on “Internet Research Ethics”, written by Elizabeth Buchanan and myself. I’m confident the existence of this entry in such a popular and prestigious publication will help increase awareness of these important issues.

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ICA 2012: Researching Social Media: Ethical and Methodological Challenges

I’m currently in Phoenix, AZ for the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, participating on an important panel on “Researching Social Media: Ethical and Methodological Challenges“, organized by Anders Olof Larsson (Uppsala) and Hallvard Moe (Bergen). The panel is listed under the Communication and Technology division of ICA, but has implications well beyond that […]

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Research Ethics and the Blackberry Project

Forbes privacy columnist Kashmir Hill recently published a profile of University of Texas-Dallas developmental psychology professor Marion Underwood’s large-scale research project titled “The Blackberry Project.”

The Blackberry Project is an ongoing longitudinal study examining teen behavior and sociability, which first recruited its subjects in 2003. Then, in 2009, the subjects (now entering 8th grade) were provided with BlackBerry devices with unlimited text and data plans paid for by the investigators. The devices were configured so that the content of all text messages, e-mail messages, and instant messages was saved to a secure server to be mined by the researchers — over 500,000 messages a month are being archived.

While the Blackberry Project appears to have been managed properly through the IRB rules and regulations, it highlights emerging ethical concerns with projects of this nature, including issues of consent, undue influence, and privacy & anonymity.

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Presentations at PRIM&R 2011 "Adancing Ethical Research"

This weekend I have the great privilege of sharing my research and perspectives on Internet research ethics at the 2011 “Advancing Ethical Research” conference held by Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R). On the opening morning of the conference, I will join John Palfrey and Lydia Shrier for a plenary panel on “Would Margaret […]

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My Research in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Harvard's Privacy Meltdown"; some annotations

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article featuring my critique of the privacy protections and research methods related to the “Taste, Ties, and Time” (T3) Facebook research study conducted by a set of Harvard sociologists. Written by Marc Parry, the article is not-so-subtly teased as “Harvard’s Privacy Meltdown” on the Chronicle’s front page, […]

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Facebook Data of 1.2 Million Users from 2005 Released: Limited Exposure, but Very Problematic

Recently, a Facebook dataset was released consisting of the complete set of users from the Facebook networks at 100 American institutions, and all of the in-network “friendship” links between those users as they existed at a single moment of time in September 2005. Surprisingly, it initially included each users unique Facebook ID, meaning the presumed “anonymous” dataset could be easily re-identified, potentially putting the personal information of 1.2 million Facebook users at risk.

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