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Level of Impact I, continued

“Public” Data

Some questions to consider:

"In an age of digital media, do we really have any privacy?" (Susan Barnes, “A Privacy Paradox,” 2006)

For those doing work with big data, recommended reading: Matthew Zook et al., "Ten simple rules for responsible big data research," 2017

The Question of Personhood

Some questions to consider:

"Is an avatar a person?"
"Is one’s digital information [e.g. photos, videos, audio, social media posts] an extension of the self?"
"Can we assume a person is wholly removed from large data pools?" Note: "there is considerable evidence that even ‘anonymised’ datasets that contain enough personal information can result in individuals being identifiable"
"Does the connection between one’s online data and [their] physical person enable psychological, economic, or physical, harm?"

Source: the 2012 Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research report by the the AoIR Ethics Working Committee

Considerations of Representation

  • Your research question
    • How we talk about “fixing problems” in communities, cultures and people groups
    • Using a deficit-focus asset-focus for different communities
  • the sensitivity of certain topics (for example, illegal activities, immigration status, or abuse)
    • Ask: even though this data is available to me, would the people this data comes from want it used this way?
  • Is this data representative?


Let's analyze and discuss a case study.

Review Joshua Tabak and Vivian Zayas's academic article and their summary of it for the New York Times, and discuss:

  • What kinds of “human subjects” are involved in this study?
  • Is a social media photo of oneself an extension of the self?
  • Does their methodology raise any ethical concerns?

Discuss with your table, then share as a group.

Further reading: Patrick Sweeney, "Images of Faces Gleaned from Social Media in Social Psychological Research on Sexual Orientation," 2017

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