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The Ethics of Using Social Media Data in Research: A New Framework

The Ethics of Online Research

ISBN: 978-1-78714-486-6, eISBN: 978-1-78714-485-9

Publication date: 12 December 2017


Over the past decade, the number of people engaging with social media has grown rapidly. This means that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are potentially good sources of rich, naturally occurring data. As a result, a growing number of researchers are utilizing these platforms for the collection of data on any number of topics. To date, no consistent approach to the ethics of using social media data has been provided to researchers in this sphere. This chapter presents research that has developed an ethics framework for the use of researchers working with social media data. The chapter also presents the framework itself and guidance on how to use the framework when conducting social media research. A full report can be accessed on:




This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/M001628/1] and was carried out at the University of Aberdeen. With contributions and feedback from: Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster; Curtis Jessop, NatCen; Dave Harte, Birmingham City University; Elvira Perez Vallejos, University of Nottingham; Hayley Lepps, NatCen; Jennifer Holden, University of Aberdeen; Kate Orton-Johnston, University of Edinburgh; Luke Sloan, Cardiff University; Michael Smith, University of Aberdeen; Samantha McGregor, Economic and Social Research Council; Suzanna Hall, University of Roehampton.


Townsend, L. and Wallace, C. (2017), "The Ethics of Using Social Media Data in Research: A New Framework", Woodfield, K. (Ed.) The Ethics of Online Research (Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity, Vol. 2), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 189-207.



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