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Özkula, S. M. (2020). The Issue of “Context”: Data, Culture, and Commercial Context in Social Media Ethics. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 15(1–2), 77–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/1556264619874646


One of the central concerns in research ethics in recent years has been the vast amount of data available from social media platforms and the related concerns around what establishes an ethical use of data. Toward addressing these challenges, researchers have therefore called for the consideration of “context” in Internet research. However, context remains a fuzzy concept and little guidance exists on its different dimensions. In response to this issue, this article uses worked examples from three data sets to discuss three different dimensions of “context”: data context, cultural context, and commercial context. The article problematizes these dimensions and offers suggestions toward creating ethical sensibility to these by drawing on two data sets from 2017: (a) climate change imagery scraped from five social platforms and (b) digital-ethnographic work at the climate summit COP23.