Thursday, March 31, 2005

the ethical issues of "lurking"

I am interested in your views on Parr's ethical concerns about lurking in chatrooms as a research tool. Journalists have such strict rules about this, but virtual space is a whole new ball game. Does anyone else share these concerns and is it good research in the sense that if you do reveal your virtual presence it could change the conversation?

3 comments:

Chris said...

Parr contends that the talk spaces she studied were public spaces and therefore she wasn't bound by considerations of confidentiality and privacy. I understand where she's coming from but wonder whether it's actually beyond dispute that these spaces are public spaces. Is there case law to that effect?

Kevin said...

That's an interesting contention. I took a course in cyberlaw last semester, but this idea was never raised. The current approach to Internet regulation is to apply offline law to online situations whenever possible. I guess the nature of the chatroom would determine whether it's a public space or not, but then again, most chatrooms are controlled by private companies, so I'm not sure "public space" regulations would apply. It would be an interesting area to research.

Linda said...

I did an undercover shoot once in a fake abortion clinic and the rule was we had to call up several times and ask to do the shoot there. Then after we were repeatedly turned down we could go undercover. I don't know how this would apply to the internet - let people know you would like to lurk and research and then if they object do it anyway? it's a brave new world...