Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Research Ethics of Twitter for MOOCs

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

It should go without saying that I want to do my research ethically. That said, it seems to me that this paper (18 page PDF) on ethics when using data from Twitter goes overboard in its advocacy for caution. After all, what are the privacy implications of a message you have written and posted publicly to several million people? And surely there are as many arguments to be made against anonymizing Twitter posts as are to be made in favour. Collecting tweets isn't like collecting survey data or activity reports, and to treat them as similar seems to me to be wrong. This again I think shows that while so much of 'ethics in research' presumes that a certain ethical code applies, there is not in fact universal agreement on ethics, and even a basic principle such as 'do no harm' can be interpreted any number of ways.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 24, 2024 2:57 p.m.

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