Barbara Felderer, Annelies G. Blom
Acceptance of the Automated Online Collection of Geographical Information

Sociological Methods and Research, 2022: 51, issue 2, pp. 866–886
ISSN: 0049-1241 (print); 1552-8294 (online)

The ease at which online paradata can be captured in web surveys seems to increase social researchers’ desire to collect such data. Yet little attention is paid to whether respondents actually approve of their collection. This article, therefore, studies online survey respondents’ acceptance of automatically collecting their geographical locations. In wave 4 of the German Internet Panel, we asked respondents for their consent to automatically track their location using a JavaScript. Respondents were also asked to report their location in a set of traditional survey questions. About 62 percent of respondents consented to the automated collection of their location whereas 97 percent provided their location manually. With respect to consent biases, we find evidence that the composition of the achieved sample of geo-located respondents is biased and that the personal characteristics associated with respondents’ willingness to be geo-located differ between the automated tracking and manual provision of geo-information.