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March 12, 2009

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Just working through some notes on ethics and social networks and I thought I'd share the following paragraph that I've been working on - because it seems counter-intuitive at first.

There is a growing consensus that comments posted in social networks are not ‘in the public domain’ and that researchers should seek permission to use them. Researchers should also remember that because the internet is so readily searchable, they should avoid using literal quotes from social network discussions (in most cases) as this will potentially reveal who the respondent is.

In many codes of ethics and in a growing number of laws, the intention/expectation of the person making a post is important in determining what can be done with that post. In terms of privacy there are two issues. The first is that if a researcher has to join a network to see the post, then the person making the post is doing so in the expectation that they are talking to genuine members of the community, not to professional researchers or journalists. The second that is when somebody makes, say, 200 posts in their status bar over the course of a year, they did not have the expectation that all their quotes would be brought back together as a single corpus for investigation.

You are really great. I have read through your articles and posts. they are great and it gives me a sense of thoughts.

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