University of Maryland

Pervasive Data Ethics

The project’s website is

Katie Shilton, myself, and five other colleagues at other institutions were awarded a NSF Large grant (“CHS: Large: Collaborative Research: Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research) in summer 2017. The four-year project promotes promotes the progress of science and technology development by providing the empirical knowledge needed to advance fair, just computational research. For the official NSF award, click here.

Prior Work: Attitudes & Behaviors Toward Social Computing Ethics

With the increasing popularity of mediated communication and the relatively easy access  to large collections of user data, social computing, HCI, and other researchers face new challenges to ensuring the data they collect and analyze is done so ethically.

Katie Shilton, Jessica Vitak, and Zahra Ashktorab collected survey data from (1) researchers in academia and industry who work with online digital traces and (2) IRBs at research institutions in the U.S. to understand the attitudes toward and practices employed when collecting online data and to identify disconnects between researchers and IRBs regarding best ethical practices.

The first paper from this data collection was published at CSCW 2016 and can be accessed here. The second paper was recently accepted by the Journal of Research Ethics and will be posted once published.

  • News

    July 2021: Vitak (along with Sarah Gilbert and Katie Shilton) published “Measuring Americans’ Comfort With Research Uses of Their Social Media Data” in the journal Social Media + Society.

    June 2021: Vitak and Zimmer had an extended abstract summarizing their workplace surveillance & COVID-19 work accepted to AoIR 2021.

    October 2020: Vitak and Zimmer published a study in First Monday on privacy concerns associated with the adoption of contact tracing apps.

    August 2020: Vitak & Zimmer were awarded a Rapid Response grant from SSRC to study how workplace surveillance is evolving due to COVID-19.

    January 2020: Vitak, Clegg, and Chetty were awarded a NSF Small grant for their work on developing privacy & security curriculum for elementary school children.

    May 2019: PhD student Kumar presented research from our kids’ safety project at CHI. The paper discusses how educators consider privacy and security when using digital technologies in the classroom. More info is here.

    March 2019: We won the Lee Dirks Award for Best Full Paper at the iConference! PhD student Liao was the lead author on the paper presenting survey results from our IPA study.