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The “publicness” of social media activity is also used to explain why we should not be overly concerned that the Library of Congress intends to archive and make available all public Twitter activity.In each of these cases, researchers hoped to advance our understanding of a phenomenon by making publicly available large datasets of user information they considered already in the public domain.They knew they had something with the underlying technology that made it easy for people to upload videos to the Internet. "Let's just open it up to any video."The matchmaking element, though short-lived, was perhaps always in the cards.Chen said the founders registered the domain name You Tube on February 14, more than a decade ago.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.Data is already public.” This sentiment is repeated in the accompanying draft paper, “The OKCupid dataset: A very large public dataset of dating site users,” posted to the online peer-review forums of Some may object to the ethics of gathering and releasing this data.However, all the data found in the dataset are or were already publicly available, so releasing this dataset merely presents it in a more useful form.
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.
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.
The “already public” excuse was used in 2008, when Harvard researchers released the first wave of their “Tastes, Ties and Time” dataset comprising four years’ worth of complete Facebook profile data harvested from the accounts of cohort of 1,700 college students.
And it appeared again in 2010, when Pete Warden, a former Apple engineer, exploited a flaw in Facebook’s architecture to amass a database of names, fan pages, and lists of friends for 215 million public Facebook accounts, and announced plans to make his database of over 100 GB of user data publicly available for further academic research.