Lab Ethics Statement
Social research ethics are at the core of the Social Data Science Lab’s programme of work (including HateLab) . Recent work shows how users of social media and online forums are uneasy about their posts being collected without their explicit consent (NatCen 2014, Williams et al. 2017). However, many terms of service specifically state that users’ data that are public will be made available to third parties, and by accepting these terms users legally consent to this. In the Lab’s research programme we interpret and engage with these terms of service through the lens of social science research which often implies a higher ethical standard than provided in legal accounts of the permissible use of these kinds of data. The topic of ethics in online research has been a key focus of ours and formed a primary research question in our first ESRC Digital Social Research Demonstrator Grant. Ethics as a topic continues to be embedded in our follow-on projects and we are continuously reflecting upon our practice as social and computational researchers. We are acutely aware of the key ethical issues of harm, informed consent, the invasion of privacy and deception as they relate to the collection, analysis, visualization and dissemination of online data.
Below we outline our ethical principles that apply to all our on-going externally funded work:
NatCen (2014) Research Using Social Media: Users’ Views, London: Natcen.
Williams, M. L., Burnap, P. and Sloan, L (2017), Towards an ethical framework for publishing Twitter data in social research: taking into account users’ views, online context and algorithmic estimation. Sociology