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The Ethics of Twitter Research: A Topology of Disciplines, Methods and Ethics Review Boards

Michael Zimmer, PhD: “In the five years since its launch, the social networking and microblogging service Twitter has quickly grown to over 300 million users, generating over 300 millions tweets each day. By providing a simple platform for users to explain “what’s happening” in 140 characters or less, Twitter has become the Internet’s de facto public forum to sharing “pretty much anything [users] wanted, be it information, relationships, entertainment, citizen journalism, and beyond” (Dybwad, 2009). This sharing of information, relationships, entertainment, journalism, and beyond has made Twitter a cultural phenomenon…The Library of Congress recognized this importance of Twitter when it announced in 2010 that, Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress (Raymond, 2010, ¶2)..In the wake of the Library of Congress announcement, increased debates over the appropriateness of archiving public Tweets for research purposes have arisen (see, for example, Vieweg, 2010; Zimmer, 2010)…The goal of this paper is to seek initial answers to these questions by surveying academic research that relies on the collection and use of Twitter data.”

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