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Thread: Asking Workers for their Facebook Profile Picture

  1. #1

    Question Asking Workers for their Facebook Profile Picture

    Hey Guys,

    I am a junior researcher in London and new to mTurk. For my dissertation in social sciences I was hoping to collect around 120 Facebook profile pictures of US residents via mTurk. Those pictures will then be used for another task on mTurk to get some opinions by other workers on those pictures. I am aware that it is generally not accceptable to ask for personally identifiable information on mTurk (specifically phone number or emailadress). But I am not sure about the pictures and hence want to ask you. If I inform the worker and state clearly and in detail before the task what the picture is used for (only for finishing the dissertation), do you think it is acceptable to ask workers for their FB profile picture? I am aware that this is currently a sensitive topic, hence I am asking you. I dont see any other way to get an acceptable sample of real FB profile pictures that includes the informed consent by the depicted person.

    Thank you guys,
    MichR

  2. #2
    Moderator Rosie The Robot's Avatar
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    Welcome to Turker Nation!

    MTurk's acceptable use policy prohibits you from collecting personally identifiable information. I consider a photograph of someone to be personally identifiable information, but I'm not sure of the legal definition.

    If you were to request that, you would risk being reported and having your account suspended of I am correct. Also, I would expect that few workers would do that HIT, especially after that big Facebook privacy scandal.

    You really need to ask mTurk if it is included in their definition of personally identifiable information.

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  4. #3
    Moderator Rosie The Robot's Avatar
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    Thinking more on this, I'm wondering if you are requiring their face or whatever they happen to be using at this time? Many of my friends are using cartoon characters or plants. Would you accept that? Also, many change often. If you would accept a random pic which they are no longer using, it would not be personally identifiable information. You would probably not want pics of their children, I think that treds into sticky legal areas. Many of my friends use their children as their profile pic. So, if you were to ask for their Facebook profile pic and they gave you a dog or a flower, would you still pay them? Also, would you mind that they then change it to protect themselves? How about of they change it, give it to you, and then change it back? I'm seeing so many scenarios, and none of them appear to me like they are going to get you what you are really looking for. Although, I admit that I'm unclear as to what that is.

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  6. #4
    Hey Rosie, thank you for the detailed feedback. This is really helpfull for me.
    So, I am aware of all those tricky details you mentioned. My idea was to make a qualification HIT first because I certainly need people that have a Facebook profile and I need a certain age range. Here, I would inform qualified workers on what exactly the picture should have as for criteria etc. and send them the invitation to the actual photo HIT (I am not super familiar with ATM yet but I think that should somehow work). It does not need to be the current profile picture but it should not be older than 2-3 years and it must contain the profile owner (no children, no groups, no landscape or cartoon). This is partially due to my research aim, but also because of research ethics I need the actual consent of the person depicted. Ideally, pictures would not be masked (although the individual faces are not really important so I could maybe think of a black bar over eyes etc.).
    So I fully understand the privacy issues in light of the recent scandal. Hence I aim on informing the workers properly and ask for their consent etc.

  7. #5
    Moderator Rosie The Robot's Avatar
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    Sounds good. But, you'll want to check with mTurk and verify that you are allowed to request photos of the workers. I'm pretty sure that you are not, but I could very well be wrong.

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    Last edited by Rosie The Robot; 06-06-2018 at 02:38 PM.
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  8. #6
    I think if you're very transparent with the workers that they are giving you consent to use their photos, and that other workers will see their photos in a future HIT, that's ok. One thing to think about, though:

    Many turkers blow right by the consent/info page when they're doing HITs (they just scroll down and click "I agree"). So, you'll need to make the info about their photos being seen by other turkers really big/bold, maybe on an additional page they have to click through.

    I'm not a requester, so I don't know if asking for pics of workers is against TOS, but there are lots of HITs where people make videos of themselves. So, I'm guessing asking for profile pics would be allowed. You just need to make sure everyone knows their photos will be seen by other turkers, and not just you and your colleagues.

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