Ethical Research Practices in the Wake of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal
As with all forms of data research, social media data research poses important questions and concerns over its ethical practices. In the wake of the Cambridge Analaytica scandal these concerns have drawn increasing ire and publicity along with a heightened scrutiny over the role of social data analysts.
The full extent of the impact of Cambridge Analytica’s unethical data collection is yet to be fully determined. To what extent did it influence major political events such as the USA’s 2016 Presidential Elections and Brexit? Was any approach illegal? One thing is certain, the sort of data collection alleged to have been implemented by Cambridge Analytica was undeniably unethical.
However the industry moves forward from the Cambridge Analytica scandal – whether individuals take more responsibility to safeguard their personal data or Governments impose strict legislation – there is clearly no excuse for unethical research practices.
We at Media Measurement strongly believe in the incredible benefits social data insights can bring to organisations, brands and consumers. By researching and utilising this data appropriately and morally, we can create positive change for all. We also believe that the industry should move to create increased transparency and integrity in the field of social media research.
Media Measurement puts honesty, transparency and reliability at the forefront of our research. We firmly believe that the true value of our data research and insights stem from our principled outlook. Whether the datasets come from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, forums, blogs or comments, we are always committed to abiding by stringent ethical guidelines.
We are fully committed to staying up to date with regulations in order to comply with the legal terms and conditions of all the social media sites we use to extract our data. And we also understand that to be truly committed to ethical research, we cannot rely purely on what is legal or what is written in the fine print of a social media site’s terms and conditions. This has informed our decision to apply the basic principle of ‘informed consent’. In other words, we abide by the principles of whether a user would desire for their information to be public and used in data research.
By adhering to a stringent data privacy ethical code, we are ensuring our research is more reliable and more truthful. Underhand tactics in compiling and using data are not just unacceptable, but will have long-term negative impact on the industry as whole. The whirlwind backlash against Cambridge Analytica prove the need for consumer trust and transparency within the industry.
Tim Zecchin, Managing Director, Media Measurement
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