Scraping Ethics

riot

The post by Lynne Roberts on #nsmnss, summarises some of the issues around analysing social media data. I have been playing around with the Twitter and Facebook APIs to rebuild social networks and, as I suspect with others, researching in this area the breathless excitement of working out how to do it and the intellectual challenge of what to do with it leads to the ethical methodological questions being overlooked. In the end I end up a database of posts and links between identifiable individuals. As @flygirltwo notes the Guardian’s Reading the Riots study raises issues about holding this identifiable information. Being able to trace the waxing and waning of rumours about the escape of animals from the zoo is entertaining, but it skates close to becoming an exercise in identifying influential spreaders, whether the memes are true or false.

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