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Scraping by? Europe’s law and policy on social media research access.

Author: Leerssen, P., Heldt, A., & Kettemann, M. C.
Published in: C. Strippel, S. Paasch-Colberg, M. Emmer, & J. Trebbe (Eds.), Challenges and perspectives of hate speech research, 1 (pp. 405–425). Berlin, Germany: Digital Communication Research.
Year: 2023
Type: Book contributions and chapters
DOI: 10.48541/dcr.v12.24

This chapter discusses the legal aspects of researchers' access to social media data, focusing in particular on recent developments in European law. We see law as playing both an enabling and a restrictive role in facilitating platform data access. Identifying a number of shortcomings in current legislation, we argue for the creation of a sound legal framework for scholarly data research. The new Digital Services Act makes some promising first steps towards regulating programmatic data access through APIs, but many obstacles and ambiguities remain. Furthermore, a clear vision on the legal status of public interest scraping projects is still lacking. In the teeth of private ordering by global platform companies, as new gatekeepers in academic research, ensuring fair and rights-sensitive data access must be a priority for the (European) legislator.

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Matthias C. Kettemann, Prof. Dr. LL.M. (Harvard)

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