Internet Research Ethics in the platform society: issues and open questions/theoretical reflections and research experiences

Internet Research Ethics in the platform society: issues and open questions/theoretical reflections and research experiences


Comunicazioni Sociali — Journal of Media, Performing Arts and Cultural Studies

Internet Research Ethics in the platform society: issues and open questions/theoretical reflections and research experiences

Edited by Charles M. Ess, aline franzke shakti, Elisabetta Locatelli

Since the late 1990s, Internet Research Ethics (IRE) has emerged as a burgeoning field, fueled by an ever-growing variety of ethical challenges and concerns (Zimmer and Buchanan, 2016). To name but a few, questions include how to minimize risks for researchers and research subjects, and issues surrounding informed consent and intersecting interests between corporations and academic approaches: both emphasize the importance of the integrity of researcher but also add challenges to Ethics Committees, who aim to confirm what research can or cannot be conducted (franzke et al., 2020). In recent years, the societal and technological landscape has changed and expanded still again: platforms such as social media and apps aggregate a significant number of users, generating new social, cultural, and media practices to study. Research into these realms is stimulating and challenging but further implies methodological and ethical issues surrounding both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Both ethnographies and big data approaches in particular have different but compelling ethical issues to consider (Zimmer, Kinder-Kurlanda, 2017; Zook et al, 2017). Actually, there is the need to study and comprehend users' behaviors and their socio-cultural implications but users need to be more aware of what may happen to the data they posted and also about the research they are involved into. Moreover, the complex nature of AI technology and platform logics has evoked thunderous academic debates surrounding buzzwords such as fake news, and the importance of taking up misinformation, hate speech and ethical reflection in social media research is more compelling than ever before. In addition to these changes, the role and importance of internet research ethics has grown for over a decade and the approach of having it incorporated by design into the research projects is increasingly more common (Ibiricu, Van Der Made, 2020). For example, when participating in public grants and fundings such as Horizon Europe, the evaluation of the ethics of research is an aspect required from the very beginning also for social sciences and humanities. This entails a specific attention to privacy and developing a new attitude and best practices also for these disciplines, with consequences for how research projects are developed and carried out, including ethics assessments from its very beginning through its dissemination. Among the new challenges there is also the need of making research data open, requiring a further level of reflection.  

Considering this landscape, the present issue of Comunicazioni Sociali. Journal of Media, Performing Arts and Cultural Studies focuses on the new challenges of the ethics of social media and internet research through eliciting papers addressing theoretical reflections and research projects across the world especially related to social sciences, media studies, performing arts, and cultural studies. This topic is consistent with the tradition of the journal and its attention to the research on media and its context.

The aim is to make a collection of research experiences as well as theoretical reflections that can serve as useful examples and references for the academic community.

The call for papers invites submission of abstracts regarding the following topics of internet and social media research ethics; abstracts on other topics related to internet research ethics are also welcome:

  • Informed consent;
  • Possible harms to research subjects (especially when dealing with vulnerable subjects such as children, immigrants and people at the margins, and sensitive issues, such as gender and health);
  • Potential harms vis-a-vis the safety and integrity of the researcher;
  • Privacy and data protection with small data (e.g., ethnographies, interviews) and big data;
  • The role of the research participants in the research project (e.g., considering them as active subjects, as in research with children or in research-action projects);
  • Internet Research Ethics across countries (e.g., comparative studies, the role(s) of Ethics Review Boards, etc.);
  • Ethics by design and the design of the research process;
  • Dissemination of the research and open data.


Submission details

Please send your abstract and a 150 words biographical note by September 16, 2022 to:

Abstracts should be between 300 to 400 words of length (in English). All submissions should include: 5 keywords, name of author(s), institutional affiliation, contact details and a short bio for each author. Authors will be notified of proposal acceptance/rejection by September 30, 2022.
If the proposal is accepted, the author(s) will be asked to submit the full article, in English, by February 17, 2023.
Submission of a paper will be taken to imply that it is unpublished and is not being considered for publication elsewhere.
Articles must not exceed 5’000/6’000-words (including references)
For editorial guidelines, please refer to the section “Guide for the authors” on the Comunicazioni sociali website
Contributions will be submitted to a double-blind peer review process.
The issue number 2.2023 of Comunicazioni Sociali will be published in September, 2023.“Comunicazioni Sociali” is indexed in Scopus and it is an A-class rated journal by ANVUR in: Cinema, photography and television (L-ART/06), Performing arts (L-ART/05), and Sociology of culture and communication (SPS/08).



Franzke, aline shakti et al. (2020) Internet Research : Ethical Guidelines 3.0 Association of Internet Researchers. Available at:
Ibiricu, B., & van der Made, M. L. (2020). Ethics by design: a code of ethics for the digital age. Records Management Journal, 30(3), 395–414.
Zimmer, M. and Buchanan, E. (2016) Internet Research Ethics, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available at:
Zimmer, M., & Kinder-Kurlanda, K. (Eds.). (2017). Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age: New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts. Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age. New York: Peter Lang (Digital Formation series).
Zook, M., Barocas, S., Boyd, D., Crawford, K., Keller, E., Gangadharan, S. P., … Pasquale, F. (2017). Ten simple rules for responsible big data research. PLoS Computational Biology, 13(3), 1–10. 


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