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Internet Research Ethics and Social Media

  • Charles Melvin EssEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Internet research ethics (IRE) is introduced via a historical overview of its development by the Association of Internet Researchers’ ethics committees (2002, 2012, 2020) and the Norwegian Research Ethics Committees (2003, 2006, [2018] 2019). These overlapping but importantly distinctive guidelines foreground key norms and principles (starting with human autonomy and dignity), ethical frameworks (utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, feminist ethics, care ethics), and prevailing, especially question-oriented approaches to identifying and resolving representative ethical challenges in internet research. Comparing and contrasting these (and other relevant) guidelines further introduce us to additional central elements of assumptions regarding personhood and moral agency (individual vis-à-vis relational); respecting and incorporating diverse national/cultural ethical traditions and norms by way of an ethical pluralism; the role of dialogical, process approaches and reflective ethical judgment (phronēsis); interweaving ethics and methods; and considering ethical challenges characteristic of distinct stages of research. Two challenges evoked by Big Data research techniques are examined, beginning with the possibilities and limitations of informed consent and researchers’ possible use of “gray data” (personal information that is hacked and thus made public and available to researchers). Current and future challenges cluster about protecting both researchers’ and subjects’ privacy – specifically, privacy as now reconceptualized in terms of contextual integrity as appropriate to the more relational selves facilitated especially by social media – in an emerging Internet of Things (IoT).

Keywords

Internet research ethics Virtue ethics Care ethics Feminist ethics Deontology Utilitarianism Human Subjects Protections Informed consent Ethical pluralism Reflective judgment (phronēsis

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media and CommunicationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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