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date: 07 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines ethical issues in Internet research by considering the case of China. Drawing on the notion that an Internet ethical framework should be flexible enough to allow for “ethical self-direction and (in case of error) correction,” it explores the ethical implications of China’s own unique sociocultural context for Internet research. The chapter begins with a discussion of the important sociocultural variables that must be taken into account in the application of the Chinese Internet for research purposes, including the pervasive censorship, political repression, and a weak legal framework for privacy protection. It then reviews existing methodological approaches to Chinese Internet research and their ethical ramifications, such as online experiments and surveys, content analysis, and digital ethnography. It also proposes some strategies for ethical navigation of the Chinese Internet space, including the use of virtual names for participants and hiding the original websites of sensitive blogs.

Keywords: Internet research, China, Internet ethics, censorship, political repression, privacy protection, online experiments, online surveys, content analysis, digital ethnography

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