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Some researchers consider most social media communications as public, and posts from networks such as Twitter are routinely harvested and published without anonymization…
Some researchers consider most social media communications as public, and posts from networks such as Twitter are routinely harvested and published without anonymization and without direct consent from users. In this chapter, we argue that researchers must move beyond the permissions granted by ‘legal’ accounts of the use of these new forms of data (e.g., Terms and Conditions) to a more nuanced and reflexive ethical approach that puts user expectations, safety, and privacy rights center stage. Through two projects, we present qualitative and quantitative data that illustrate social media users’ views on the use of their data by researchers. Over four in five report expecting to be asked for their consent and nine in ten expect anonymity ahead of publication of their Twitter posts. Given the unique nature of this online public environment and what we know about users’ views pertaining to informed consent, anonymity, and harm, we conclude researchers seeking to embark on social media research should conduct a risk assessment to determine likely privacy infringement and potential user harm from publishing user content.
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…
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: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/socsci/research/new-europe-centre/information-societies-projects-225.php