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Abstract

How can researchers use social media data responsibly? How can we make sure that we collect, collate, analyse and publish data from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. in ways that are in keeping with best ethical practice? I am a Senior Researcher in the Human Centred Computing theme at the Department of Computer Science. I work on projects that explore the social impacts of innovation and my research frequently involves the in-depth, qualitative analysis of social media data. In this presentation I will draw on two recent projects – Digital Wildfire (on the spread of harmful content on social media) and UnBias (on the user experience of algorithm driven Internet platforms) - to highlight the range and depth of ethical issues that researchers face when working in this area. I will focus in particular on a case study concerning the publication of Twitter data in order to describe how these issues crystallise around fundamental principles such as informed consent, anonymisation and the minimisation of harm. I will argue that constructive debate across academic fields is necessary in order to take a proactive approach towards good research practice.

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