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Researchers Release Profile Data on 70,000 OkCupid Users Without Permission (vox.com) 190

An anonymous users shares a Vox report: A group of researchers has released a data set on nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid. The data dump breaks the cardinal rule of social science research ethics: It took identifiable personal data without permission. The information -- while publicly available to OkCupid users -- was collected by Danish researchers who never contacted OkCupid or its clientele about using it. The data, collected from November 2014 to March 2015, includes user names, ages, gender, religion, and personality traits, as well as answers to the personal questions the site asks to help match potential mates. The users hail from a few dozen countries around the world. The researchers, Emil Kirkegaard, Oliver Nordbjerg, and Julius Daugbjerg ran software to "scrape" the information off OkCupid's website and then uploaded the data onto the Open Science Framework, an online forum where researchers are encouraged to share raw data to increase transparency and collaboration across social science.
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Researchers Release Profile Data on 70,000 OkCupid Users Without Permission

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @06:38PM (#52113087)

    I'm not going to name any names, but *several* Slashdot users appear not to be able to read summaries with any degree of accuracy - the data is not public, but only AVAILABLE TO OkCupid USERS (yes, that is what the summary actually says).

    *Very* important distinction.

    • I'm not going to name any names [...]

      Well, I am. This is a story about exposing internet users after all. The comment you're referring to (or one of them) is here [slashdot.org], posted by this long time Slashdot user [slashdot.org], who should hang his head in shame.

  • "Unavailable For Legal Reasons

    This record has been suspended"
    https://osf.io/p9ixw/files/ [osf.io]

    Kirkegaard's other work (still available) on Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/a2yfn/ [osf.io]

    Interestingly enough, it works out to be great advertising for a really neat science site/service...

  • "cardinal rule of social science research ethics". If that isn't enough a red flag, I don't know what is. Anyone who puts that much time in a concept surely is out to fuck someone.
  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@@@poetic...com> on Saturday May 14, 2016 @08:18PM (#52113405)

    from TFA: "The data dump did not reveal anyone's real name."

    Usernames, etc, were revealed. A clever person might be able to find the true owner of an account if it was really important to him/her. Time will tell if any puppies were injured by this action.

  • Gosh I hope I cancelled my account before then.

  • by starless ( 60879 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @09:00AM (#52115255)

    http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/ [emilkirkegaard.dk]

    OSF has now suspended the entire repository, not just deleted the user datafile. Not sure why this is the case. So for now, the paper PDF will be available here: OKCupid_public_dataset_paper Edited to add: The repository is closed due to a DMCA request sent by OKCupid which is currently being investigated.

    A good use of the DMCA in this case IMO. (Though surprised it worked overseas.)

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