“I LOVE THINKING ABOUT ETHICS!” PERSPECTIVES ON ETHICS IN SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH

Katrin Weller, Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda

Abstract


The topic of research ethics has been a very important one in Internet research since its beginnings (Ess 2014) and for the interdisciplinary AoIR community in particular. In 2012 the AoIR published version 2.0 of its seminal “Recommendations from the AOIR ethics working committee” (Markham and Buchanan 2012; Ess 2002). In their recommendations, the authors recognized that because the objects of study in Internet research, namely the Internet and its various technologies and user groups, are both complex and ephemeral, so that rules and guidelines also necessarily cannot be static. The report further acknowledges the “complexity of ethical decision making in individual cases” (Markham and Buchanan 2012: 3), the fact that there are many possible ethical issues that can arise for Internet researchers, that there are many grey areas in ethical decision making, and that multiple underlying ethical frameworks (Ess 2014) may be applicable simultaneously. Therefore the report advocates “guidelines rather than a code of practice so that ethical research can remain flexible, be responsive to diverse contexts, and be adaptable to continually changing technologies.”


Full Text:

PDF