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Kirkegaard, the lead author, is a graduate student at Aarhus University in Denmark.
(The university But the data set reveals deeply personal information about many of the users. But it's entirely possible to use clues from a user's location, demographics, and Ok Cupid user name to determine their identity.
(There are some exceptions to the informed consent rule, but those do not apply when there's a chance a person's identity can be linked to sensitive information.) This data scrape, and potential future studies built on it, won't provide any of those protections.
And scientists who use this data set may be in breach of the standard ethical code.
The data, collected from November 2014 to March 2015, includes user names, ages, gender, religion, and personality traits, as well as answers to the personal questions the site asks to help match potential mates."This is without a doubt one of the most grossly unprofessional, unethical and reprehensible data releases I have ever seen," writes Oliver Keyes, a social computing researcher*, on his blog.A separate paper by Kirkegaard and describing the methods they used in the Ok Cupid data scrape (also published on the Open Science Framework) contains another big ethical red flag.The authors report that they didn't scrape profile pictures because it "would have taken up a lot of hard drive space." And when researchers asked Kirkegaard about these concerns on Twitter, he shrugged them off.
The users hail from a few dozen countries around the world.an online forum where researchers are encouraged to share raw data to increase transparency and collaboration across social science.