Tag Archives: Social Media Analysis

CaSMa in The Conversation: Most of us don’t read the social media small print – and it’s a data goldmine for third parties

image-20150615-5816-5huim1The history of human experiments often focuses on biomedical research and the gradual changes in acceptable practice and ethical considerations. But another class of human experiments that has had its own share of controversies is the study of human behaviour.

Internet Mediate Human Behaviour Research (IMHBR) is primarily defined by its use of the internet to obtain data about participants. While some of the research involves active participation with research subjects directly engaging with the research, for example through online surveys or experimental tasks, many studies take advantage of “found text” in blogs, discussion forums or other online spaces, analyses of hits on websites, or observation of other types of online activity such as search engine histories or logs of actions in online games.

Continue reading CaSMa in The Conversation: Most of us don’t read the social media small print – and it’s a data goldmine for third parties

Is it time to establish an annual awareness day for ICT Terms & Conditions?

TandCsWith the ever evolving and expanding interest in, and uses for, user related data, and the ever growing amount of user generated data, criticism of standard practice around ‘Terms & Conditions’ (T&Cs) as means for gaining ‘informed’ consent from users for accessing and using their data is becoming ever more vocal.

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2nd International Conference on Internet Science

The 2nd international conference on Internet Science “Societies, governance and innovation” will be organised in Brussels under the aegis of the European Commission, by the EINS project, the FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science.

This highly multidisciplinary conference will allow to foster dialogue among scholars and practitioners belonging to various disciplines: Computer Science, Sociology, Art, Mathematics, Physics, Complex systems analysis, Psychology, Economics, Law, Political Science, Epistemology, etc.

Open Day and Scientific Conference

May 27: OPEN DAY
A registration-free event open to anyone interested in the Internet Science topic. An opportunity for the EINS Network of Excellence to interact with external stakeholders, detail project methodological approach, and showcase its results to a wider community. This open day will be an occasion for new stakeholders to join the EINS affiliate programme (Internet Science community) and to discuss on the Internet Science challenges of today and tomorrow.

A scientific conference inviting researchers from various disciplines to present papers shedding light on Internet research, and in particular papers crossing rigid disciplines boundaries, describing original research and innovative ideas. Structured interactive sessions (roundtables and provocative panels) will be part of these two days.

CaSMa participation

In addition to an active contribution to the round-table discussion on “Internet Research Ethics: Striking a balance between conflicting interests” during the Open Day, CaSMa researcher Ansgar Koene will also present his paper on “Ethics of personalized information filtering” during the session on Internet and Innovation on May 29th.

Hidden costs of personalized information services?

RecommenderSystemPersonalized information filtering by online search engines, social media, news sites and retailers represents a natural evolution in the development towards ever more finely tuned interaction with the users. Since the internet provides an overwhelming quantity of information on most topics, information overload has become one of the main concerns for users. Perceived quality of information services is therefore strongly determined by the ease with which the user can obtain some information that satisfies their current desires. For many of the most highly success internet service, like Google, Amazon.com, YouTube, Netflix and TripAdvisor, the recommender system is a key element in their success over rival services in the same sector. Some, like Netflix, openly acknowledge this even to the extent of awarding large prizes for anyone that can improve their recommender system.

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Would you consent to having your social media data used in this study?

ConsentSurveyAs part of the “Conditions for Consent to analyze Social Media data” project within CaSMa, we have recently launched a survey to ask for your views about the type of information you would want to have before participating in social media research.

Willing consent from all parties involved in a transaction is generally accepted to be a corner stone in the foundation of ethical behavior, no matter if the interaction is of a personal (e.g. sex), professional (e.g. participation as research subject) or public (e.g. being quoted in the media) nature¹. And yet, when dealing with research, or any other interactions online, the mere facts that the interaction is mediated by machines appears to blur this fundamental concept in people’s minds.

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BAAL workshop on Ethics of Online Research Methods

BAAL Language and New Media SIG 2015 Workshop

Workshop aims

Today, more than ever, data are widely accessible, visible, and searchable for research in digital media contexts. At the same time, new data types and collection methods challenge existing approaches to research ethics and raise significant and difficult questions for researchers who design, undertake and disseminate research in and about digital environments.
The aims of this workshop are to bring together researchers who use online research methods and data in different subfields of applied linguistics, to discuss ethical considerations in online data collection and analysis, to identify challenges and share solutions to ethical issues arising from applied linguistics research.

Keynote speakers

Alexandra Georgakopoulou (King’s College London)
Claire Hardaker (Lancaster University)
Annette Markham (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Stephen Pihlaja (Newman University, Birmingham)

Contact Details

Tereza Spilioti, email: SpiliotiT1@cardiff.ac.uk
Helen Clifford, email : encap-events2015@cardiff.ac.uk


CaSMa provided two contributions to this workshop:

Ansgar Koene presented: Participant Consent and Withdrawal when using publicly archived data

Abstract: In this paper we start by critically analysing the publicness of various types of online archived data and discussing under which conditions such archives relieve researchers from their ethical requirement to seek consent from, and provide opportunities for withdrawal to, participants. We will argue that, from the perspective of the participants who contribute data to online platforms, most online data cannot be classified into binary categories of public of private, but lies within a spectrum between these extremes. If we consider, for instance, the way in which many people use Twitter, we observe that twitter conservations often take the form of discourses within friend networks rather than public announcements. By analogy we might consider such conversations akin to a discussion between acquaintances in a public space, like a café. While the participants are willing to accept that their conversation can be heard by other people in same space, they would not be comfortable with the idea that someone is systematically eavesdropping and analysing their discussion. We should note in this context that the fact Twitter automatically archives such conversations is not consciously considered by most Twitter users. In the second half of our paper we take a closer look at the case of Twitter for which we will discuss a range of participant consent and withdrawal procedures. We will present the outcome of a feasibility pilot in which we surveyed the willingness of Twitter users to provide informed consent for having past tweets analysed when the specific research question is clearly explained to them. Based on this survey we will also discuss if, and how, the filtering of participants based on willingness to consent might skew the resulting data. We conclude with a set of recommendations for participant consent and withdrawal procedures to be used when accessing online archived data.


Elvira Perez Vallejos presented: Ethical considerations for online mental health communication research

Abstract: Young people experience severe and potentially long-lasting psychological difficulties, yet many perceive difficulties in communicating their concerns to professionals and only a fraction receive available support services. We propose to investigate the linguistic strategies with which adolescents present mental health concerns in online settings, the barriers they identify in communicating their experiences and how these might be alleviated. The study will utilise an interdisciplinary team, applying expertise in applied linguistics and human computer interaction to elucidate adolescents’ expressions and experiences of psychological distress. Relevant for this workshop will be the ethical considerations regarding informed consent, trust, anonymity issues, privacy and the right to withdraw. We will discuss the potential challenges regarding data access and analysis from a user centric perspective and potential solutions such as explicit opt-out/opt-in recruitment strategies. The results will inform subsequent planning and design of online research including vulnerable young people.

CaSMa at the ICISSP 2015

ICISSP2015_bannerFrom February 9 to 11 Ansgar participated on behalf of CaSMa at the ICISSP 2015 (1st International Conference on Information System Security and Privacy) conference in Angers, France. The conference featured talks covering both technical and social issues that were addresses both from practical and theoretical perspectives. Topics included Data and Software Security, Trust, Privacy and Confidentiality, Mobile Systems Security, and Biometric Authentication.

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SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYSIS AND MENTAL HEALTH: Putting people at the centre of human data

During this one-day workshop event special focus will be given to the ethics of personal data in both theory and practice and how social medial data (small data) can be accessed and analysed to:

  1. Understand the ways people use social media and what this means for individuals and society.
  2. Understand social phenomena and events expressed in social media by drawing upon social media as a critical, and timely, source of information.
  3. Develop facilities and approaches that are sensitive to the personal nature of human data: Citizen centric approaches.
  4. Promote responsible innovation in the capture, analysis and use of human data.


9.25-9.30 Dr Elvira Perez (University of Nottingham) – Welcome/Introduction
9.30-10.15 Dr Jens Binder (Nottingham Trent University) – Title: “Self-report does not equal self-report: Levels of personalisation of data in social media research”
10.15-11.00 Professor Karen Douglas (University of Kent) – Title: ‘The social psychology of social media: Individuals, groups and society’

11.00-11.15 Refreshments break

11.15-12.00 Dr Ilka Gleibs (London School of Economics) – Title:‘Turning Virtual Public Spaces into Laboratories:Thoughts on Conducting Online Field Studies UsingSocial Network Site’
12.15-1300 Professor Monica Whitty (University of Leicester) – Title: ‘Collection of Big Data: Re-thinking issues around informed consent’

13.00-1400 Lunch break

14.00-15.00 Parallel sessions
Workshop A. Social Media access and analysis: Citizen centric approaches (Room A07) facilitated by Ansgar Koere (Senior Research Fellow at CaSMa)

Workshop B. Ethics of personal data: Consent, anonymity issues, privacy and trust (Room A06) facilitated by Victoria Betton, (mHealth Programme Director) and Elvira Perez (Senior Research at CaSMa)

15.00-15.15 Refreshments break

15.15- 16.15 Parallel sessions
Workshop A. Social Media access and analysis: Citizen centric approaches (Room A07) facilitated by Ansgar Koere (Senior Research Fellow at CaSMa)

Workshop B. Ethics of personal data: Consent, anonymity issues, privacy and trust (Room A06) facilitated by Victoria Betton, (mHealth Programme Director) and Elvira Perez (Senior Research at CaSMa)

16.15-16.30 Closure

To sign up for the workshop, follow this link to Eventbrite.

What concerns do citizens have about the use of their social media data?

As we reported back in November 2014, the CaSMa Research team visited the Web We Want Festival hosted at the London South Bank Centre on the 28th to 30th of the month, and are very excited to share with you some of the fascinating insights offered across the weekend!

Continue reading What concerns do citizens have about the use of their social media data?

Corpous Approaches to Social Science

The CaSMa/CASS workshop on Corpus approaches to Social Medial Analysis will be delivered by Prof. Tony McEnery, Prof. Paul Baker, Dr. Claire Hardaker and Mark McGlashan from the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) at University of Lancaster.

The workshop  will look at the use of corpus linguistics to explore social media, specifically Twitter. It is comprised of three talks covering recent research projects in the CASS centre, looking at Twitter reactions to the Channel 4 program Benefits Street (Paul Baker), the murder of Lee Rigby (Tony McEnery) and misogynistic abuse (Claire Hardaker and Mark McGlashan), followed by a session of hand-on experience in doing some basic corpus linguistics using the Antconc 3.4.3 software package and a small database of tweets.

Workshop programme:


Coffee in Cloisters


Welcome and brief introduction to CaSMa


Introduction: Paul Baker and Tony McEnery: Corpus Linguistics and some issues when working with Twitter corpora

11:00 – 12:00

Claire Hardaker & Mark McGlashan: Misogynistic tweets and social networks


Tea and coffee


Paul Baker: Identifying discourse communities in tweets about Benefits Street




Tony McEnery: Comparing Press and Twitter reports on the Lee Rigby Attack

Coffee and cake to be available from 14:30


Paul Baker: Workshop – analysing the “heforshe” Twitter corpus
Please bring laptops for this part of the session (not Macs unless Antconc 3.4.3 installed)


Discussion chaired by Svenja Adolphs (and networking)