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Bechmann, A., & Kim, J. Y. (2019). Big Data. In R. Iphofen (Ed.), Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76040-7_18-1


Big data research is an umbrella term that characterizes research in many fields. This chapter will focus specifically on big data research tied to the use of social media primarily with a focus on humanities and social science research. Social media as a data source provides opportunities to understand how people individually and collectively communicate, socialize, and critically scrutinize platform infrastructures, exposure, and interaction logic. However, the data and the subsequent processing are closely tied to important ethical issues especially concerning tensions between privacy on the one side and accountability/transparency on the other side. Through an illustrative big data case study of Facebook groups supplemented with existing literature, the chapter will explore ethical dilemmas that occur in connection with social media big data research. The chapter argues that we need to justify our research design balancing protection of the individuals and the aim of creating knowledge for the good of society.