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The final methodology used to access the data is not fully explained in the article, and the question of whether the researchers respected the privacy intentions of 70,000 people who used Ok Cupid remains unanswered.I contacted Kirkegaard with a set of questions to clarify the methods used to gather this dataset, since internet research ethics is my area of study.
The Harvard “Tastes, Ties, and Time” dataset is no longer publicly accessible. And it appears Kirkegaard, at least for the time being, has removed the Ok Cupid data from his open repository.While he replied, so far he has refused to answer my questions or engage in a meaningful discussion (he is currently at a conference in London).Numerous posts interrogating the ethical dimensions of the research methodology have been removed from the Open open peer-review forum for the draft article, since they constitute, in Kirkegaard’s eyes, “non-scientific discussion.” (It should be noted that Kirkegaard is one of the authors of the article the moderator of the forum intended to provide open peer-review of the research.) When contacted by Motherboard for comment, Kirkegaard was dismissive, stating he “would like to wait until the heat has declined a bit before doing any interviews.We must reframe the inherent ethical dilemmas in these projects. And we must continue to develop policy guidance focused on the unique challenges of big data studies.That is the only way can ensure innovative research—like the kind Kirkegaard hopes to pursue—can take place while protecting the rights of people an the ethical integrity of research broadly.