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Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age

New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts

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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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Data Challenges

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CHAPTER FIVE

Lost Umbrellas

Bias and the Right to Be Forgotten in Social Media Research

REBEKAH TROMBLE AND DANIELA STOCKMANN



Since the European Court of Justice handed down its ruling in the 2014 Costeja case – finding that Google and other search engine operators must consider requests made by individuals to remove links to websites that contain the requesting party’s personal information – scholars, policymakers, legal practitioners, media commentators, and corporate representatives around the globe have been vigorously debating the so-called “right to be forgotten.” In the American context, many worry that recognizing such a right would undermine the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech and press. In the European Union, a renamed “right to erasure” has become law as part of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation in 2016. The right to erasure “prevent[s] the indefinite storage and trade in electronic data, placing limits on the duration and purpose for which businesses” can retain such data (Tsesis, 2014, p. 433) and holds that individuals may request the deletion of data when those data have become irrelevant, are inaccurate, or cause the individual harm that is not outweighed by a public benefit in retaining the data (Koops, 2011).

Though most of the discussion surrounding the right to be forgotten and the right to erasure has focused on the limits and responsibilities of corporate and media data “controllers,” internet users’ basic right to remove and have...

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