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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 Nine: Internet Research Ethics in a Non-Western Context (Soraj Hongladarom)


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Internet Research Ethics IN A Non-Western Context


The internet has become an environment for research not only in the West, but also globally. Its ubiquity has resulted in researchers examining it from a large variety of perspectives, and certainly this has given rise to ethical concerns. However, in contrast to traditional empirical research, research based on online data has its own peculiarities that need to be specifically addressed. This specificity, then, needs to be further elaborated when the research is done in non-Western environments, where not only the environment of research ethics but also the vocabularies used to describe it are different.

In this paper I argue that internet research ethics should be sensitive to cultural concerns and address whether the rules and guidelines in internet research need to be changed when the research is done outside of the Western context. Basically my argument is that there are different paths toward the same goal. The goal in this case is protection of the research participants, but how to achieve this goal can vary according to local contexts. In other words, different sets of vocabulary and theoretical tools can be used which vary according to contexts, but they arrive at the same goal. What I would like to argue more specifically is that the rules, regulations, or guidelines of internet research ethics do not necessarily have to be very different when the research is...

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