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Hi Everyone,

I sent a message off-list to Ines about this, but since the thread has
persisted, I'll let you know my experiences:

1. Academic or not, according to Facebook you are bound by their terms
of use. And Section 2.A.6 says that Facebook properties are their
property. You can only store them for up to 24 hours, and only for the
purpose of optimizing your site.

2. There is another section that says you can keep equivalent
properties so long as they were captured independently of Facebook.

3. Technically, it is not difficult to slurp up facebook data or store
it. I have a php script that will get you the data from a Facebook
page formatted as a GUESS .gdf file and I'll gladly share it.

4. Anonymity is an illusion in these data sets, both from a structural
trace point of view (see Kleinberg's recent work) or just from plain
old detective work (see Michael Zimmer's response to the Lewis et al.
not-Harvard data set). Confidentiality is a far more plausible and
realistic goal.

If you have to go through ethics, depending on your university you'll
either be bound by these terms of use, or they will support you in
your dismissal of Facebook's clearly stated and extensively discussed
terms (just google "Section 2.A.6 Facebook"). But I cannot believe I'm
the first person to bring up the specific terms of use! This in itself
says something about how we as researchers perceive the rights of our
subjects, and it's not good.

Finally, I have a paper on this which i presented at a conference
recently. It was meant as a methods paper and a warm up to a more
extensive one (since the paper only uses my network, which I think I
can easily justify legally). The legalities as well as some technical
and methodological issues are discussed therein:

Take care,

Bernie Hogan
Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute
University of Oxford

On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 3:29 PM, Alvin Chin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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> I believe the best way to get at Facebook data is to take a subset,
> get consent from people within a Facebook group.  That is, choose a
> Facebook group, contact the moderator or creator, and specify what you
> are doing to get consent from the users in the group.  In that way,
> the members in that group are familiar with what research and methods
> you are using.  Forget trying to knock on Facebook to give you data,
> that is a 1 in a trillion chance of that happening.  Of course, then
> the next challenge is getting this through your local ethics board to
> make sure that users know what is happening with their data, that
> researchers anonymize the data when used with the FB APIs.
> Alvin

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