A recent Facebook study has initiated a debate on privacy and ethicis concerns, with the Federal Trade Commission saying they'll soon be involved as well.
Scholars are exhilarated by the prospect of tapping into the vast troves of personal data collected by Facebook, Google, Amazon and a host of start-ups, which they say could transform social science research.
Once forced to conduct painstaking personal interviews with subjects, scientists can now sit at a screen and instantly play with the digital experiences of millions of Internet users. It’s the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.
“This is a new era,” said Jeffrey T. Hancock, a Cornell University professor of communication and information science. “I liken it a little bit to when chemistry got the microscope.”
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Source: The New York Times