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Not to fan the flames on the social justice warriors.”I suppose I am one of those “social justice warriors” he's talking about. Rather, we should highlight this episode as one among the growing list of big data research projects that rely on some notion of “public” social media data, yet ultimately fail to stand up to ethical scrutiny.
The Harvard “Tastes, Ties, and Time” dataset is no longer publicly accessible. And it appears Kirkegaard, at least for the time being, has removed the Ok Cupid data from his open repository.
is an all-too-familiar refrain used to gloss over thorny ethical concerns.
The most important, and often least understood, concern is that even if someone knowingly shares a single piece of information, big data analysis can publicize and amplify it in a way the person never intended or agreed.
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After her husband’s death, she did not have sex with any man.
While he replied, so far he has refused to answer my questions or engage in a meaningful discussion (he is currently at a conference in London).
Numerous posts interrogating the ethical dimensions of the research methodology have been removed from the Open open peer-review forum for the draft article, since they constitute, in Kirkegaard’s eyes, “non-scientific discussion.” (It should be noted that Kirkegaard is one of the authors of the article the moderator of the forum intended to provide open peer-review of the research.) When contacted by Motherboard for comment, Kirkegaard was dismissive, stating he “would like to wait until the heat has declined a bit before doing any interviews.
When asked whether the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. Kirkegaard, who was lead on the work, replied bluntly: “No.There are serious ethical issues that big data scientists must be willing to address head on—and head on early enough in the research to avoid unintentionally hurting people caught up in the data dragnet.In my critique of the Harvard Facebook study from 2010, I warned: The…research project might very well be ushering in “a new way of doing social science,” but it is our responsibility as scholars to ensure our research methods and processes remain rooted in long-standing ethical practices.Michael Zimmer, Ph D, is a privacy and Internet ethics scholar.