Mining social media data: How are research sponsors and researchers addressing the ethical challenges?

Research Ethics 14 (2):1-39 (2018)
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Abstract

Background:Data representing people’s behaviour, attitudes, feelings and relationships are increasingly being harvested from social media platforms and re-used for research purposes. This can be ethically problematic, even where such data exist in the public domain. We set out to explore how the academic community is addressing these challenges by analysing a national corpus of research ethics guidelines and published studies in one interdisciplinary research area.Methods:Ethics guidelines published by Research Councils UK, its seven-member councils and guidelines cited within these were reviewed. Guidelines referring to social media were classified according to published typologies of social media research uses and ethical considerations for social media mining. Using health research as an exemplar, PubMed was searched to identify studies using social media data, which were assessed according to their coverage of ethical considerations and guidelines.Results:Of the 13 guidelines published or recom...

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