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Ethics of Big Data in practice: Social media research

Wednesday, 24 February 2016, 12.00pm to 2.00pm

Ethics of Big Data in practice: Social media research

Dr Dhiraj Murthy (Goldsmiths, Department of Sociology)


The ethics of using social media data are not being sufficiently taught in the social sciences. This has much to do with the fact that social scientists themselves are not well-versed in social media ethics. There are major ethical implications in using social media data in social research and this session broadly explores why this needs to be taken seriously. This session will explore the ethical challenges faced by the research community when using social media data. A starting point draws from the Association of Internet Researcher’s guideline that “all digital information at some point involves individual persons, [and] consideration of principles related to research on human subjects may be necessary even if it is not immediately apparent how and where persons are involved in the research data.” Given recent controversies in large-scale social media research, particularly around the Kramer, Guillory, & Hancock’s (2014) Facebook news feed experiment, there will be a particular focus on the use of big data methods. Using my own diverse research projects with Twitter, Yik Yak, Instagram, and YouTube data as case studies, I will discuss how my collaborators and I have endeavored to follow best practices in our research and the challenges of taking a strong duty of care.


Dhiraj Murthy is Reader of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research explores social media, virtual organizations, virtual teams, and digital research methods. He has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and papers and a book about Twitter, the first on the subject. His work on social networking technologies in virtual organization breeding grounds was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Office of CyberInfrastructure. Dhiraj currently co-directs the interdisciplinary Centre for Creative & Social Technologies (CAST).

Forthcoming talks

Achieving Consistent Low Latency for Wireless Real-Time Communications with the Shortest Control Loop

Thursday, 18 August 2022, 4.00pm to 5.00pm
Speaker: Zili Meng, Tsinghua Unversity
Venue: FW11 and

Real-time communication (RTC) applications like video conferencing or cloud gaming require consistent low latency to provide a seamless interactive experience. However, wireless networks including WiFi and cellular, albeit providing a satisfactory median latency, drastically degrade at the tail due to frequent and substantial wireless bandwidth fluctuations. We observe that the control loop for the sending rate of RTC applications is inflated when congestion happens at the wireless access point (AP), resulting in untimely rate adaption to wireless dynamics. Existing solutions, however, suffer from the inflated control loop and fail to quickly adapt to bandwidth fluctuations. In this paper, we propose Zhuge, a pure wireless AP based solution that reduces the control loop of RTC applications by separating congestion feedback from congested queues. We design a Fortune Teller to precisely estimate per-packet wireless latency upon its arrival at the wireless AP. To make Zhuge deployable at scale, we also design a Feedback Updater that translates the estimated latency to comprehensible feedback messages for various protocols and immediately delivers them back to senders for rate adaption. Trace-driven and real-world evaluation shows that Zhuge reduces the ratio of large tail latency and RTC performance degradation by 17% to 95%.

Speaker Bio: Zili is a 3rd-year PhD student in Tsinghua University. His current research interest focuses on real-time video communications. He has published several papers in SIGCOMM / NSDI and received the Microsoft Research Asia PhD Fellowship, Gold Medal of SIGCOMM 2018 Student Research Competition, and two best paper awards.

BSU Seminar: "Genome-wide genetic models for association, heritability analyses and prediction"

Monday, 22 August 2022, 4.30pm to 5.30pm
Speaker: David Balding, Honorary Professor of Statistical Genetics at UCL Genetics Institute and University of Melbourne
Venue: Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, School of Clinical Medicine, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0SP

Although simultaneous analysis of genome-wide SNPs has been popular for over a decade, the problems posed by more SNPs than study participants (more parameters than data points), and correlations among the SNPs, have not been adequately overcome so that almost all published genome-wide analyses are suboptimal. While there has been much attention paid to the shape of prior distributions for SNP effect sizes, we argue that this attention is misplaced. We focus on what we call the "heritability model": a low-dimensional model for the expected heritability at each SNP, which is key to both individual-data and summary-statistic analyses. The 1-df uniform heritability model has been implicitly adopted in a wide range of analyses. Replacing it with better heritability models, using predictors based on allele frequency, linkage disequilibrium and functional annotations, leads to substantial improvements in estimates of heritability and selection parameters over traits, and over genome regions, as well as improvements in gene-based association testing and prediction. Key collaborators Doug Speed, Aarhus, Denmark and Melbourne PhD student Anubhav Kaphle.

Statistics Clinic Summer 2022 III

Wednesday, 31 August 2022, 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Speaker: Speaker to be confirmed
Venue: Venue to be confirmed

If you would like to participate, please fill in the following "form": The deadline for signing up for a session is 12pm on Monday the 29th of August. Subject to availability of members of the Statistics Clinic team, we will confirm your in-person or remote appointment.

This event is open only to members of the University of Cambridge (and affiliated institutes). Please be aware that we are unable to offer consultations outside clinic hours.

Statistics Clinic Summer 2022 IV

Wednesday, 21 September 2022, 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Speaker: Speaker to be confirmed
Venue: Venue to be confirmed

Abstract not available

Title to be confirmed

Monday, 26 September 2022, 3.00pm to 4.00pm
Speaker: Christopher Yau, University of Manchester
Venue: CRUK CI Lecture Theatre

Abstract not available