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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsFacebook’s New Data Restrictions Will Handcuff Even Honest Researchers – Wired (Robbie Gonzalez | March 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Facebook’s New Data Restrictions Will Handcuff Even Honest Researchers – Wired (Robbie Gonzalez | March 2018)

 


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LAST WEEK, WHEN news broke (again) that Cambridge Analytica had allegedly misused 50 million Facebook users’ data, it immediately raised a difficult question: When a company possesses information about some 2 billion people, is its chief obligation to share that information, or protect it?

It appears the changes by Facebook will make it harder for researchers, but we suspect the wider community will be completely fine with that.

The answer’s not as obvious as you might think. To social and computer scientists, Facebook is arguably the most valuable data repository on earth. Insight into many of the most pressing issues of our time, from social media’s role in political processes to technology’s impact on individual wellbeing, could well reside on the social network’s servers—a fact that has led many scientists and policymakers to call for more permeable borders between public researchers and Facebook’s private data hoard.
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But then Cambridge Analytica happened, and gave a lot of researchers a scare: Tapping into Facebook’s data is already more onerous than many of them would like. How would the company’s reaction to one of its most devastating public disasters to date affect their access going forward?
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