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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 Eighteen: Locating Locational Data in Mobile and Social Media (Lee Humphreys)


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Locating Locational Data IN Mobile AND Social Media


Locational data can be defined loosely as information about where things are. Typically we think about locating places, people, and even things such as cars, keys, etc. Places like countries, cities, or towns are pretty easy to locate because they are mostly defined by representations of space, like maps (Lefebvre, 1991). Places like businesses are also relatively easy to locate because they do not move very often. People and artifacts are more challenging to locate because they move. As such, the changing locational information about people and artifacts in space has been more difficult to attain, but mobile and social media are changing this. People can now share their locations in real time through mobile media whether explicitly through a check-in service like Facebook Places or through default platform settings like Instagram, which automatically tag the location of a social media post was made from.

Wilken (2014) argues situating social media companies as location-based social media platforms helps to understand their financial business models and therefore motivations for evolution and change. In 2015 both Twitter and Facebook attained the majority of their revenue through mobile advertising.1 So, even though these companies do not describe themselves as location-based social media platforms, technically and, more importantly, financially, they are. Therefore people who are studying such social media platforms can benefit from thinking through aspects and variations of...

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