Members of the #Webimmunity project would like to invite you to attend an online seminar on Twitter research ethics, which will take place on 29 April 2021. During the seminar, the participants will discuss the ethical challenges of the #webimmunization project with Internet research ethicists. Moreover, the organisers hope that this seminar will contribute to general discussion regarding ethical challenges of Internet (Twitter) research.
The #Webimmunization project focuses on psychological and social aspects of susceptibility to misinformation on social media. One of the key elements of our project is application of machine learning to scoring individual users and online communities on the webimmunization scale that we elaborated in laboratory settings.
Twitter, a microblogging platform, is one of the researchers’ favorite data source. The reason behind this is that the main idea of Twitter is to share one’s thoughts and impressions with the rest of the world, and Twitter as a company provides researchers with instruments allowing them to download and analyse huge amounts of data – through Twitter API and Twitter Firehose (Zimmer 2014). Moreover, Twitter is a place where misinformation is produced and spread. These two factors: Twitter openness and Twitter as a misinformation ecosystem make it a perfect match for our research project.
However, research using huge amounts of data from social media can be ethically controversial, despite the researchers’ good intentions. A few examples from the past can serve as a warning sign. Jason Kaufman, Nicholas Christakis, Andreas Wimmer, Kevin Lewis, and Marco Gonzalez – the researchers involved in the Taste, Ties, and Time study – followed their sponsor requirements and made their data open for other researchers. However, they were not aware that the data set was prone to quite easy re-identification and posed a risk to the individuals who had not given their informed consent for participation in the 3T study (Zimmer 2010). Similarly, when Kramer and his team published their study on emotional contagion on Facebook, they did not expect such fierce ethical controversies and criticism (Kramer 2014, Tufekci 2015).
Elizabeth Buchanan, PhD (Marshfield Clinic Research Institute)
Prof. Mikołaj Morzy (Poznan University of Technology)
“Machine learning pitfalls, or what could go wrong?”
Jan Piasecki, PhD (Jagiellonian University Medical College)
“Ethical Framework for Webimmunization Score on Twitter”
Nicholas Proferes, PhD (Arizona State University)
“Ethics for Twitter Research Beyond Review Boards”
For more information, visit the seminar website: https://webimmunization.cm-uj.krakow.pl/en/twitter-research-ethics-online-seminar/