Facebook data infrastructure

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Presentation at digital media research seminar, The Centre for Communication and Computing, University of Copenhagen, November 14, 2012

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Facebook data infrastructure

  1. 1. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS:FACEBOOK DATAINFRASTRUCTURE DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 1
  2. 2. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 2
  3. 3. Research interest•  More fenced-off and ubiquitous internet (cross-platform/ cross-services through login)•  How do we get access to closed data about users on private social networks as tool in virtual ethnography (e.g. Facebook) –  In order to analyze user behaviors with FB across websites –  User data structures –  Analyze navigation outside FB but related to FB (checkins) –  Analyze use patterns during the day (timely) –  Analyze digital cross-platform use of FB (laptop, smartphones, pdas) –  Analyze exposures to content from other website/media DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 3
  4. 4. Existing methods•  Virtual ethnography (howard, wittel, marcus, markham, kendall, baym, boyd)•  Friending: –  You are not sure to get all activity because of sorting algorithms of Facebook –  You must manually export them to see patterns over time•  Following them physically –  Time consuming –  Too much intervention in everyday rhytms –  But you will get a lot of detail on the context of activity on Facebook that is not possible to get otherwise DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 4
  5. 5. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS as data retrievaltool•  Act as an external ‘company’/third party when extracting data from Facebook•  Designed a webbased system called DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS •  Using Facebook’s graph API •  User consent that DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS draw info on users like any other application/website using facebook connect •  Users can withdraw anytime they like •  Researchers can mine data from the users and answer research questions in qualitative studies DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 5
  6. 6. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 6
  7. 7. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 7
  8. 8. Digital FootprintsDIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 8
  9. 9. Data extractions e.g.•  Demographics•  Newsfeeds•  Network and friends•  Likes•  Check-ins•  Private/public groups•  Pictures, status updates and uploaded material•  Friends material through consent of the participant etc. etc. etc…. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 9
  10. 10. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 10
  11. 11. •  www.digitalfootprints.dk/login DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 11
  12. 12. Methodological triangulation (e.g.)1.  Harvesting private data with consent, mining these data (DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS)2. Focus group interviews with participants to understand their attitudes and strategies->Digital Footprints can help answer “what” and qualify other methods for asking “why” DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 12
  13. 13. Strengths & limitations•  Strenghts –  Researchers can easily send link via email to participants, asking them to sign up for the research project –  Researchers can access closed data without profiles being public –  Data is saved in database which makes it possible to extract and sort different patterns –  Digital Footprints also allow researchers to study the newsfeed of the participants –  Researchers can study a variety of Facebook activities in one system•  Limitations –  Methodologically users must be chosen beforehand and asked to participate –  Not representative sampling/data –  Digital Footprints relies on the graph API settings which is controlled by Facebook –  Therefore “only” qualitative virtual ethnographic tool –  Cannot register user traffic patterns (click-through analysis) DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 13
  14. 14. Future research•  (How) can we make data retrieval through Facebook Graph APIs representative – how do we recruit for quantitative analysis•  Problems: –  Representative users or certain kind of users that uses this application –  If not application – certain types of users that has public profiles –  What is the Facebook population from which we sample?•  What about the ethical question of retrieving friends data as well?•  Problems: –  When retrieving data friends will comment, like etc. on the participant’s data and therefore be visible in the system –  Working on effective anonymization methods DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 14
  15. 15. Law & Ethics•  Privacy Law: –  Comply to EU directive 1995, 1999, 2002, 2011 (with explicit consent, limited time, explicit purpose, only data needed for that specific purpose etc.)•  Danish Data Protection Agency: –  Apply for permission to make research project involving personal and sensitive user data•  Facebook’s terms of (data) use: –  You cannot redistribute user data to any third party stakeholder –  User must be able to delete their data from the research project –  Keep info up to date….?? –  User’s friends data can only be used in the context of the user’s experience on your application…??•  Ethics: –  Is it okay to mine on data even with consent for research purpose? What are the arguments for and against? DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 15
  16. 16. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 16
  17. 17. Articles submitted/in preparation•  Bechmann, A. & Vahlstrup, P.: (in review) Digital Footprints: Studying private user data on Facebook, CHI’13, Paris.•  Bechmann, A & Lomborg, S. (in review): Open APIs as a method for data collection on social media, The information Society, pp.1-20.•  Bechmann, A (in preparation): Personal data attitudes and behaviors in the EU and US. DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 17
  18. 18. Thank you!Digital Footprint: http://digitalfootprints.dkPeter VahlstrupLead programmerAarhus Universityimvpbv@hum.au.dkAnja BechmannHead of Digital Footprints Research GroupAarhus Universityabp@hum.au.dk DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS RESEARCH GROUP Peter Vahlstrup & Anja Bechmann 18

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