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Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age

New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts


Edited By Michael Zimmer and Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda

The continuous evolution of internet and related social media technologies and platforms have opened up vast new means for communication, socialization, expression, and collaboration. They also have provided new resources for researchers seeking to explore, observe, and measure human opinions, activities, and interactions. However, those using the internet and social media for research – and those tasked with facilitating and monitoring ethical research such as ethical review boards – are confronted with a continuously expanding set of ethical dilemmas. Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age: New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts directly engages with these discussions and debates, and stimulates new ways to think about – and work towards resolving – the novel ethical dilemmas we face as internet and social media-based research continues to evolve. The chapters in this book – from an esteemed collection of global scholars and researchers – offer extensive reflection about current internet research ethics and suggest some important reframings of well-known concepts such as justice, privacy, consent, and research validity, as well as providing concrete case studies and emerging research contexts to learn from.

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Chapter Two: A Feminist Perspective on Ethical Digital Methods (Mary Elizabeth Luka / Mélanie Millette / Jacqueline Wallace)


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A Feminist Perspective ON Ethical Digital Methods



From big data to thick data, social media to online activism, bloggers to digital humanities, evolving digital technologies have gained prominence over the last two decades in humanities and social science research. Scholars seek to refine tools, techniques, and tactics for examining the cultural, social, economic, political, and environmental entanglements between these forms and our everyday lives (e.g. Couldry & van Dijck, 2015; Hine, 2015; Kozinets, 2010). These approaches vary widely across the field. They include the emergence of ethical review boards and concomitant requirements to share vast data sets scraped from seemingly public environments (Mauthner, 2012). The development of highly technical quantitative methods for capturing the meaning of expansive data sets and social networks is sometimes subject to questionable ethical practices rather than substantive understandings about the underpinnings of the technological systems on display (Kim, 2014; Shepherd & Landry, 2013). Fraught debates over the ethics of collecting and analyzing digital qualitative data in online spaces where questions of privacy, safety, and veracity linger (boyd & Crawford, 2012; Housley et al., 2014) find resonance in established feminist scholarly examinations of the historical binary between quantitative methods, often seen as more objective, rational, or masculine, versus qualitative methods, framed as subjective and intuitive (Haraway, 1988; Hughes & Cohen, 2010). In this chapter, we seek to problematize assumptions and trends...

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