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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 Twenty-One: The Ethics of Using Hacked Data: Patreon’s Data Hack and Academic Data Standards (Nathaniel Poor)


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The Ethics OF Using Hacked Data

Patreon’s Data Hack and Academic Data Standards


When the data you wanted but could not get presents itself to you thanks to hackers, should you use the data?1

A colleague and I study cultural industries and cultural production. We have published research on the topic of crowdfunding and have used a variety of data, such as interviews, a survey, and larger scale data we scraped from the web using automated scripts to gather the publically available information on thousands of crowdfunded projects (Davidson & Poor, 2015, 2016). Crowdfunding is when someone has the idea for a project and turns to the internet-based crowd for funding for that project. This is in contrast to funding mechanisms prior to the internet, which included wealthy patrons, arts-focused foundations, government funding, loans, and asking friends and family. In return for funding, backers usually get a copy of the end product or something related to it.

One area of the research we are interested in is the long-term viability of such funding. Could it replace other, more established, but perhaps harder to get artistic funding? We decided to investigate the crowdfunding site Patreon (from “patron”), which is specifically designed to support the long-term funding of creators and their endeavors. I started exploring the site and its structure in August, 2015. However, there was no way to make...

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