The tangled web of social media, networks and research

When medium, platforms and methods change, the integrity and the ethics of the profession do not. By Camilla Ravazzolo of the UK Market Research Society.

It’s the end of the 20th century, Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t met the Winklevoss brothers yet and all is good. The digital revolution is bringing tools, dynamics and realities that only boomers are blissfully snubbing; online communities are blooming as a wide range of Internet-based forums (from eBay to Wikipedia to ICQ) are moulded by the social interactions of the members, and the policies that guide them(1). Social scientists are now faced with a new sociability: they recognize the increasing importance of the Internet and of consumers who are active in online communities, contexts in which they often participate in discussions the goals of which include attempts to inform and influence fellow consumers about products and brands(2).

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