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Dating On The Web: OkCupid Research Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science

Dating On The Web: OkCupid Research Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science

May 8, a team of Danish researchers publicly released a dataset of almost 70,000 users associated with on the web dating internet site OkCupid, including usernames, age, sex, location, what sort of relationship (or intercourse) they’re thinking about, character characteristics, and responses to numerous of profiling questions utilized by your website.

Whenever asked perhaps the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, whom ended up being lead from the work, responded bluntly: “No. Information is already general public.” This belief is repeated within the draft that is accompanying, “The OKCupid dataset: a tremendously big general public dataset of dating internet site users,” posted to your online peer-review forums of Open Differential Psychology, an open-access online journal additionally run by Kirkegaard:

Some may object towards the ethics of gathering and releasing this information

Nonetheless, all of the data based in the dataset are or had been currently publicly available, therefore releasing this dataset just presents it in an even more form that is useful.

For all those concerned with privacy, research ethics, while the growing training of publicly releasing big information sets, this logic of “but the information has already been public” is definitely an all-too-familiar refrain utilized to gloss over thorny ethical issues. The most crucial, and frequently understood that is least, concern is the fact that even in the event somebody knowingly stocks just one little bit of information, big information analysis can publicize and amplify it in ways anyone never meant or agreed.