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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsWhy Internet Scholars Are Calling Out Facebook for Restricting Access to Its Data – The Chronicle of Higher Education (Nell Gluckman | May 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Why Internet Scholars Are Calling Out Facebook for Restricting Access to Its Data – The Chronicle of Higher Education (Nell Gluckman | May 2018)

 


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After news broke in March that a scholar had harvested data about millions of Facebook users and shared it with Cambridge Analytica, a political-consulting firm that advised the Trump campaign, the social-media company made some changes.

At first brush (especially if you are a Facebook user) you might be pleased to hear the platform is making it harder for players to access information about users, but as these comments by a QUT researcher illustrate – the changes might not mean what you might have assumed from the bold statements in the press. We’ve included links to other stories around research ethics and social media? Like the work we do compiling this information? Please become an AHRECS patron for 1-15USD per month.

Facebook announced plans to restrict outsiders’ access to user information. It also said that a select group of scholars would be granted unprecedented access to its data in a project that will be partly overseen by the Social Science Research Council.
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The scholars will not be able to publish that information, but they will learn what the company will and won’t share with outside researchers and, presumably, why. They will then serve as a filter, meting out the data to researchers whose projects will seek to answer one question: How have social media influenced democracy?
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Those announcements may sound like welcome changes to social-media users worried about their privacy. User data will be less accessible to outside companies and researchers who may have nefarious intentions, but trustworthy scholars will still be able to tap into the endless trove of information.
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That’s the theory, at least. But some scholars of the internet say the new restrictions are actually a problem.
A group of those scholars last month published an open letter sounding the alarm. They also created a document listing research papers that would not exist, they say, under the new restrictions Facebook has imposed on the use of its data.

 

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