Researchers just released profile data on 70,000 OkCupid users without permission – Vox

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I don’t mind the whole “we found that 46% of our base prefers mayonnaise to mustard, 42% mustard to mayonnaise, and 8% had no preference” thing. It’s when they say “here are the identifying details of the people who hate mustard” and then lists them that I wander from “perfectly fine, what’s the big deal” to “WHAT THE HELL YOU JUST KNOW ONE OF THOSE MAYO BASTARDS IS GOING TO KILL A MUSTARD PERSON NOW AND IT WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT”.Report

  2. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    This is pretty standard operating procedure for research on social media.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      It would be nice if the identifier was just a sequential number, or a foreign key into a different database.Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

        If it’s all publicly available, then there is no private information to be protected.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          Well, coming out of an environment where fingerprint cards are passed around like playing cards, I have strong feelings about personal identifying information in any context…

          Also, it was freely available to other users of the site, not necessarily the general public at large. I think that a case can be made that the contract under which the information was provided only is applicable within those bounds.Report

          • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

            That’s a good point, if the information were only available to other users, and there was the reasonable expectation that harm would be done were the information to be leaked.

            I think though that we should stop being outraged every time something on the internet is used in a way that the original posters did not intend, as the entire purpose of the internet is as a public space, especially in the case of something as innocuous as noninvasive social science research.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Hah, I guess all those profiles I read talking about how no one had use of the profile data without authorization really had some legal force…err no.

    Thank god I’m semi anonymous on that site, and didn’t use real names / info. Fair warning, if you see a guy who’s name is similar to this one and talks about world domination, that’s me…maybe. 🙂Report

  4. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    So it turns out this is as massive a breach of privacy as “I read the phone book”?Report