Examining Ethics, Privacy, and Research Reviews


Research review at Facebook

Today, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Ohio State University’s Program on Data and Governance are holding a discussion of ethics, privacy and practical research reviews in corporate settings. This timely event, which follows the White House’s call to develop strong data ethics frameworks, convened corporate and academic leaders to discuss how to integrate ethical and privacy considerations into innovative data projects and research.  The roundtable is an important extension of FPF’s December 2015 workshop, “Beyond IRBs: Designing Ethical Review Processes for Big Data Research,” supported by the National Science Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

A major focus of the roundtable is a new paper by Facebook’s Molly Jackman and Lauri Kanerva entitled, “Evolving the IRB: Building Robust Review for Industry Research.” The paper provides a detailed overview of the company’s research review process. Informed by consultations with a wide range of experts, the Facebook process details the specifics steps taken by the company to review its internal research work and is an important step forward for corporate research ethics.

“Developing meaningful processes and standards for ethical reviews of data research is one of the critical challenges companies face today,” said Jules Polonetsky, CEO, Future of Privacy Forum. “Socially valuable advances will only be feasible if trustworthy paths are established for academic and corporate researchers alike. Kanerva and Jackman’s paper documenting the Facebook research process provides researchers with a valuable model for serious evaluation of the benefits and risks of new projects.”


Read Facebook’s paper

Read Facebook’s blog

Read Jules Polonetsky’s and Dennis Hirsch’s joint op-ed in Re/code

Read Beyond IRBs: Designing Ethical Review Processes for Big Data

View event photos