What’s On Your Mind?

There isn’t really a clear definition of what ethics ideally are, but the most commonly referred to one is “the widely agreed moral principles about what is right and wrong” (Tinkler, 2013). Ethics are widely-agreed moral principles about what is right and wrong, and what is proper and improper. Ethical research ensures the researcher is doing the right thing by the project, its participants and overall society. The definition of ethics can vary from person to person though as everyone has their own set of ideals and beliefs. This can get a bit tricky in the workplace so a lot of organisations have created an ethical guideline for it’s employees to follow when conducting research. Even though these guidelines are set in place, some companies continue to conduct unethical research.

More often than not, what you read on social media can influence you’re opinion. I know personally, that is the case for me. Only recently did I read others posts on Twitter and found myself agreeing with what they were saying, only to change my mind on the topic when I read the other side on Tumblr. The people on both of these social media sites were arguing the same topic, but I was being influenced by every post I read. According to a recent controversial study involving Facebook, emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Certain words (love, nice, nasty, hurt for example) were being filtered in and out of these individuals news feeds to see if this emotional contagion was occurring. The article, Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight by David Hunter, aims to discuss and explore the findings of the controversial study that was held by Facebook. The Emotional Manipulation Study caused international outrage in regard to the consent of Facebook users and concerns have been raised as to how the research was carried out.

Facebook gave these 689,003 people no clear indication that they were being studied for this research task. I don’t know about you but I’m always getting pointless notifications, so it couldn’t have been too hard to send another one out, right? The conductors of this study insist that everything was consistent with the policies set by Facebook at the time, but that wasn’t the case. It has now come out that the clauses relating to informed consent were added four months after the experiment was conducted.

The study reminds me of Erica Scourti. Over a year she emailed herself her daily diary over a Gmail account and created a video of herself reading the suggested ad topics Google algorithms created for her relating to the content of her email.

Reference:

Tinkler, Penny 2013, ‘Ethical issues and legalities’, in Using photographs in social and historical research, SAGE, London, pp. 195-208

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