I’ve been working on online political campaigning in France and the UK for some years now, and like many of us, had to start paying attention to what was happening on social networks at election time. To try and enable post facto analysis of data collected on Facebook and Twitter, I worked with computer scientists to build a searchable database from Facebook posts and tweets from a selection of candidates to the 2014 elections to the European Parliament. Along the way, we encountered technical difficulties but also ethical and legal ones.
From what information we could gather, databases seem to be officially regulated by two main regimes: copyright laws regarding their ownership and exploitation, and personal data protection laws, applicable when databases contain information on an identifiable subject which is the case here with political candidates. However, finding out precisely how those regimes apply in the case of data collected on social networks was a major challenge.
This session would therefore aim to discuss such issues with researchers involved in similar projects or considering doing so to address questions like the following :
- Who owns the data published on social networks ? Companies like Facebook ? Individuals who share contents ? Both, as Facebook users, for example, grant the company a non-exclusive cession of copyrights?
- Does it depend on the privacy settings chosen by users ? On the platform used ? On the type of data ?
- Which legislation applies ? That of the country where the platform is operated ? That of the individuals who share contents ? That of the researcher using the data ?
- What about potential solutions to enable researchers to use the data legally ? For instance anonymizing datasets ? Getting ‘prior consent’ ? Buying the data ?
Aaaand, that’s a lot of questions !! Maybe several sessions ? Or just one for a specific question ?