From social engineering to social networking – Privacy issues when conducting research in the web 2.0 world

David W. Stark
TNS Canadian Facts, Canada, and TNS North America


Social networking, blogging, online communities and web 2.0 technologies offer innovative ways of engaging respondents, but introduce new privacy and legal issues for researchers to manage. These issues include identity theft, harassment, defamation of character, and maintaining client confidentiality. At the same time, technological advances in computing power, mobile devices and storage media carry many benefits, but they too add risk that must be mitigated. Protecting respondent privacy and client confidentiality has never been as challenging for researchers as it is today. Regulators and the public are quick to pounce when privacy breaches occur, and clients may not be forgiving when respondents take sensitive concepts and write about them on their blogs.