Ethical issues of online communication research


The paper addresses severalethical issues in online communication researchin light of digital ontology as well as theepistemological questions raised by theblurring boundary between fact and theory inthis field. The concept of ontology is used ina Heideggerian sense as related to the humancapacity of world construction on the basis ofthe givenness of our being-in-the-world.Ethical dilemmas of Internet research thusarise from the tension between bodily existenceand the proper object of research, i.e., onlineexistence. The following issues are beingconsidered: online identity, online language,online consent and confidentiality. We alsoargue that research ethics in the US followsthe utilitarian tradition, while Europeanresearchers are deontologically oriented. Aguideline of best practice in online researchethics is proposed.

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Capurro, R., Pingel, C. Ethical issues of online communication research. Ethics and Information Technology 4, 189–194 (2002).

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  • confidentiality
  • consent
  • digital ontology
  • epistemology
  • ethics
  • ethics of care
  • Heidegger
  • identity
  • language
  • online communication research