Harvard Facebook researchers accused of breaching student privacy

July 11, 2011

The public release of the 2006 Harvard University study intended to build a data archive for social-sciences research using Facebook profiles was halted due to privacy infringements, leaving its creators scolded by some scholars and harming social-network research because of the apparent impossibility of anonymizing its data. The projects leaders used Harvard students as research assistants to gather data, gaining privileged access to certain profiles. Information on students was gathered from 1,700 profiles to feed a team of 5 sociologists interested in how race and cultural tastes affect relationships in order to overcome the lack of data available for social-network research. Since the public release ceased, the projects research team has received more than 200 requests for the data from researchers, and is still receiving one or two inquiries each week.  Chronicle of Higher Ed