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Ethical practices using social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethical practices using social media

 

Executive Summary

This paper is based on the research article “Silence of ethical practice: dilemmas for researchers using social media”. Social media is based on social networking sites and blogs that work with ancillary and core components. Researchers use social media for interaction, recruitment and educational research. Complex ethical dilemmas as identified in the article are consent, working with children, traceability and illicit activity which are faced by the researchers while conducting research and collecting data. The principles of ethics are non-maleficence, justice, beneficence, truth, autonomy and promise-keeping. This paper considers the key issues arise with online social media research. With the ethical compass, emerging technologies can be identified which are based on significant implications. The research discusses the key issues faced by researchers while using social media for data collection. These issues are based on ethical principles. The recommendations of the paper are based on a descriptive research design that promotes quantitative research and enhances the research findings. Simple random sampling is recommended for the sampling technique that helps in interpreting the information effectively. Survey technique of data collection is proposed for effective results and analyze the numerical aspects of the data. Quantitative data enhances validity, reliability, trustworthiness, accuracy and credibility in the research.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

Executive Summary. 2

Introduction. 3

Literature Review.. 3

Recommendations. 8

Conclusion. 9

References. 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Ethical considerations are referred to as the significant elements of the research that represents authentic and trustworthy knowledge to the participants. The major principles of ethical considerations are confidentiality, privacy, voluntary participation, informed consent, anonymity and managing the audience of the information or data (Lunnay, Borlagdan, McNaughton and Ward 2014). Social media platforms are majorly used by individuals to increase interaction in the community and maintain their virtual life. Building relationships and achieving motivation to become a part of the community is the major purpose of social media applications. With the increasing use of social media by individuals, ethical issues are increasing that leads to affect the lives of individuals. Some of the major issues identified through Henderson, Johnson and Auld (2013), are traceability, informed consent, reportable activities and audience of the posts. The principles of ethics are non-maleficence, justice, beneficence, truth, autonomy and promise-keeping. This paper is based on the ethical issues identified by individuals in social media platforms that lead to legal issues in society and negatively affect the customers. Different issues will be addressed in this paper to discuss the key ethics and challenges faced by the researchers to collect data. The major issues of data collection through social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram includes key concerned areas related to data and posts of the individuals. Best practice of research can be attained with the considerations of the contextual challenges that affect social media data. Access to social media data for educational purposes defines the potential audience actions of the consumers. Public data post issue, the confidentiality of the participant in the research, duration of the content post, potential audience, the privacy of records and actions of the researchers reflect some of the key challenges that affect the researchers in collecting data and attaining suitable research through social media platforms (Lunnay, Borlagdan, McNaughton and Ward 2014).

 

Literature Review

According to Benton, Coppersmith and Dredze (2017), social media has transformed the technique of data collection with the ethical considerations in different sectors. Specific guidelines are proposed by researchers to maintain the research that provides an idea of human behaviour and public perceptions. Appropriate protection for sensitive data is identified for the identification of the data through social media platforms. Development of the required information and research protocols are based on the tools of social media that provide familiar information. In the opinion of Spence, Lachlan and Rainear (2016), research conduction is based on the communicative process of social media platforms. The issue of confidentiality remains at the highest with the use of social media platforms for data collection and evaluating the needs of the audience. Expectations and current trends in the market can be effectively identified by the researchers through social media to analyze suitable data. As per Weller and Kinder-Kurlanda (2016), social media applications promote the use of information through social media that promotes comparability and reproducibility. Practical decisions for marketing and projects can be easily taken by individuals based on social media sharing. Decisions are developed with the emerging guidelines that enable better practices and ensure advance practices in research. Targeted groups can be easily identified by social media applications to promote research data and help to derive reliable results. In the opinion of Roberts (2015), researchers mainly use online methods to gather research data in the form of qualitative or quantitative data. It proposes a challenge of “traceability” in the use of data content and analyzing its impact on individuals and online communities. Ethics in practice and procedural ethics are examined through qualitative research in the online communities to analyze the information of human research participants that work with anonymity, informed consent, covert research, reactions of the researcher and deceptive research identities. Although, Weller and Kinder-Kurlanda (2016) said that social media platform provides effective research for the sensitive data that is based on ethical considerations. While Roberts (2015) considers issues in data collection through online communities and its challenges that are based on data quality and risks in the research. In the perspective of Vitak, Shilton and Ashktorab (2016), pervasive information streams are based on social computing research that works with the ethical consideration of the data. For sensitive and potential information, different challenges are identified in the online data through public data availability and record privacy concerns. According to Roberts and Allen (2015), online surveys create potential ethical issues in educational settings. Major key ethical issues identified in the conduction of online surveys are informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, anonymity and data quality. In the educational context, it creates a barrier in online researches. Procedural ethics is considered as effective for quantitative educational research that promotes analysis and reporting of the information. As per Vitak, Shilton and Ashktorab (2016), sensitive information in online data faces several challenges that lead to ethical issues. Privacy and confidentiality are identified as major issues in data collection.

In the view of Sheehan (2017), the online platform provides several issues in data collection which leads to validity, reliability and ethical practices. A critical examination of the research provides an idea about the strengths and weaknesses of the academic research platform. Cost-effectiveness is the strength of data collection through online social media tools. As per Denecke et al. (2015), social media, mobile technologies and web technologies are increasing day by day with low communication barriers. Social-media research promotes accessibility to gain information through social media applications. Personal and professional intact creates anonymity in the research studies. Data availability through social media applications creates an issue of confidentiality and privacy. While Sheehan (2017) views the issue of data collection through social media as a major concern for ethical practices, validity and reliability. Denecke et al. (2015) propose the concern faced by researchers in social media applications. Confidentiality and privacy are considered as major issues that affect the use of data. According to Crawford and Finn (2015), social media platforms present a set of mobile and social datasets to engage with ethical frameworks. The use of crowdsourced text messages and Twitter data provides significant ways of the system of knowledge. Challenges of data collection can be seen through public-facing platforms such as Twitter. It uses personal information sharing during risky situations and acknowledged consent and privacy in specific conditions. Assistance and support can be derived with the ongoing risks to argue for deeper integration. According to Gelinas et al. (2017), the use of social media is increasing by researchers to navigate ethical issues and fill the gap of nonexceptionalist methodology. Analysis of privacy and security of social media tools provide ethical compliance with “terms of use” that runs across the online networks. Online communication between participants become apart of public data that can raise an issue of traceability. Responding to the reportable activity requires the actions taken by the social media applications for deeper integration and reporting the threatful posts. In the opinion of Lunnay, Borlagdan, McNaughton and Ward (2014), Facilitation of communication among participants requires social media to minimize the potential risks. Through ethical conduct and discourage the use of an innovative method, human research ethics are useful that includes beneficence, respect and integrity to explore social influences. Guidance is provided by social media platforms to plan qualitative studies. Consent is social media and the issue of privacy raises contemporary risks to use social media for research. While according to Gelinas et al. (2017), the issue of public data is based on traceability that works across online networks and manages deeper integration on online platforms. Personal information sharing is a risky task for the individuals and the use of information on social media applications moves to storage into big data. Whereas as per Crawford and Finn (2015), acknowledgement for the use of data is necessary. Ethical issues raise ethical compliance to follow qualitative studies. Control over data collection, analysis and design are required to manage the social media platform information. As per Vayena, Salathe, Madoff and Brownstein (2015), online sharing platforms generate a wider range of data regarding the information of individuals. To recognize and anticipate potential risks, key ethical challenges are identified. Through outlining a framework for the engagement of ethical issues, the enhanced timeline is described. With the big data environment, the issue of privacy increases. The sensitivity of big data is identified as against the right to privacy. Legitimacy requirements and research methodology are based on ethical practices. In the perspective of Kern et al. (2016), accessible and quantified data promotes the exploration of key issues through the expression of Facebook. The descriptive and predictive analysis brings a valuable part to manage social media tools. Selection of social media tools for the assurance of confidentiality and privacy requires for the effective organization. As per Stieglitz, Mirbabaie, Ross and Neuberger (2017), the main challenge for the researchers in social media is related to the social media analytics process. Data discovery, collection and preparation present the challenges in the volume of data and potential solutions. The existing framework presents a challenge for social media analytics. According to Vayena, Salathe, Madoff and Brownstein (2015), online sharing platforms are available widely for all the industries. Through an effective understanding of ethical issues, key sensitive areas can be defined that raises the issue of privacy. In the perspective of Herschel and Miori (2017), big data allows easy analysis, capturing and exploit the information with the key characteristics of veracity, variety, variability, volume and velocity. It evaluates the ethical issues that are based on children and young people's perspective of the outer world. Public posts affect young children with their cognitive development and lead them in the wrong direction.

As per Boddy and Domnelli (2016), social media transforms the practices with social networking sites and maintains ethical considerations that promote online practice with confidentiality, boundary-crossing, dual relationships and clarity related issues. Ethical behaviour promotes ethical practices in the online network. The practice of professionalism, authorship, audience and power promote the fulfilment of commitment in the reflective practices. In the perspective of Hunter (2018), key ethical concerns for the researchers of public health is identified as confidentiality, privacy, anonymity, informed consent, voluntary participation, sampling, minimizing harm, management, rapid change in the social media environment and data security. Quick and clear growth in public health issues defines prescriptive guidelines that promote ethical handling of data. In the opinion of Hennell, Limmer and Piacentini (2019), ethical issues are concerned with social research. Through complex ethical issues in data collection, several challenges are faced by researchers that are related to ethical dilemmas such as traceability, informed consent and confidentiality. Ongoing dialogue identifies the potential solution to maintain social media research. Data collection is necessary for research issues which are based on an ethical approach and maintain the effectiveness of data. As per Shilton and Sayles (2016), research data using social media communities promote challenges to manage, collect and analyze data. To promote ethical guidance in research, the fulfilment of societal needs is necessary. Social media platform promotes research through ethical considerations. Recognizing and responding to reportable activities are based on the issue of cyberbullying, cybercrimes and many more. In the opinion of Fiesler and Proferes (2018), billions of data points through social computing systems such as Twitter are provided as base points to the researcher. Through highly contextual and disseminated data, observation affects the research conduction that promotes the use of public posts for children and young people. The issue of traceability with the content duration affects public post issue. Confidentiality of the participant is necessary for the researcher whereas, through social media tools, it is not possible as it affects the potential audience. According to Goodyear (2017), ethical issues in internet-based research and digital research, social media is analyzed as challenging that addresses the gap between physical education and ethical dilemmas. A clear gap is derived with the unique study in digital research that promotes the traceability of data and individual's information, questionable involvement of human subjects and diverse interactional capabilities. A high number of participants from the international nature leads to legal matters which raises ethical issues. Responsiveness with the cultural background and rational thinking leads to propose professional debate. Ethical procedures are followed by researchers although it requires intensified use of social media applications. As per Bender, Cyr, Arbuckle and Ferris (2017), ethical assessment proposes privacy risks for social media research with the use of sensitive personal information. The expectation for privacy online and its profiling and targeting strategies aligned with research audiences.

It can be suggested that research including social media applications promote ethical issues. A major question of consent arises with the perceived data. Gaining informed consent leads to public accessibility and marking social media itself. Confidentiality and anonymity is the major issue of social media research that increases the digital and searchable data to maintain the data. Including quotations and traceable data through current search facilities promote ethical permission to use Uniform Resource Locator (URLs). As per Henderson, Johnson and Auld (2013), Twitter is a public account which violates privacy and leads to present till a short period. Social media links manage the data through social media sites that experience the conditions of an individual to access the data. The dilemma of traceability increases with text-based contexts and content. Privacy, confidentiality and working with children and young people with the use of effective safety leads to develop serious concerns for the researcher and its participants. Cognitive and emotional understanding brings social-mediated texts which lead to maintaining private information through the interaction with public data. The risk of human participants increases the risk of illicit, illegal or immoral behaviour. Intervention in an ethical dilemma provides the complexity in data collection through social media. The risk of cyberbullying, cyber threats and abusive language increases that forms a part of social network interactions. It is possible that anyone can be a social media user irrespective of their age, gender or location. It risks the illicit activities and irrelevant behaviour in the research.

 

Recommendations

It can be recommended that research design can help in gathering data from social media applications. It promotes validity, reliability, trustworthiness and credibility for the effective research. Through effective and better future designs, a researcher can work on the research objectives and aims to gather the desired research findings. The collection of data is based on sampling, data gathering methods and data analysis. Following recommendations are effective for the researcher to promote the most suitable data collection technique:

  • Simple random sampling technique can be used by the researcher to select the participants with an equal probability for all participants. Based on the target consumers, random participants can be selected for understanding the desired information and manage suitable research (Rahi 2017).
  • Surveys are considered as the most effective primary data collection technique that can promote the use of primary data which will completely be based on the research objectives. Primary research through online surveys using social media applications are effective. It can help in work through quantitative data and manage the results in an accurate manner (Wilson 2016).
  • The quantitative technique of data analysis is most effective for the researchers that promote validity, reliability trustworthiness and credibility to gain a calculative based result. The survey helps to obtain quantitative data and bring accurate results for the researcher that helps in successful research (Wilson 2016).

Research design is a major part of the research methodology. It provides a framework for the use of defined research methods and techniques. Descriptive research design is recommended for the use of the effective methodology in research and promote an effective relationship between the variables. Large sample sizes can be easily handled by the researcher through quantitative research. Although it can comprise some limitations which are:

  • Quantitative research promotes limited outcomes that can provide limited research findings and reaches to specific results.
  • Data analysis becomes difficult with quantitative research that takes more time and considered as expensive.
  • The resulted outcomes are based on numerical data thus it provides less description to understand the results (Rahi 2017).

However, quantitative research brings reliability, validity, trustworthiness, credibility and accuracy to manage the research design with the most effective manner. These are the major criteria for quantitative data and overcome its limitations.

 

Conclusion

It can be concluded that social media is an affordable and most useful technique of data collection. Through different applications, the researchers can collect data for their research such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more. Although several issues are identified in the article “Silences of ethical practice: dilemmas for researchers using social media” as identified by Hender, Johnson and Auld (2013). This article provided an understanding of the following key issues which are consent, privacy, confidentiality, traceability, research with young children and response towards the reportable activity. For the marketing strategies of the organization, effective research is necessary which can be based on descriptive research design and follow quantitative data. In the research of the literature review, several issues of ethics are identified such as informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, traceability, research with young children and response towards reportable activities. It represents the promotion of socially mediated texts that create a sense of privacy in the crowd. Use of personal data for the control of individuals, increase the role of participation. Identified participation increases the loss of confidentiality which proposes dataverse through the researcher. Research with social media requires several activities to be taken into consideration. Ethical dilemmas increase several questions for ethical research involving social media. Ethical issues are necessary to deal with the research methodology to maintain effective research. Identification of the problem and strategic principles are based on the exploration of the documents. A clear gap is derived with the unique study in digital research that promotes the traceability of data and individual's information, questionable involvement of human subjects and diverse interactional capabilities. The dilemma of traceability increases with text-based contexts and content. Privacy, confidentiality and working with children and young people with the use of effective safety leads to develop serious concerns for the researcher and its participants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Bender, J.L., Cyr, A.B., Arbuckle, L. and Ferris, L.E., 2017. Ethics and privacy implications of using the internet and social media to recruit participants for health research: a privacy-by-design framework for online recruitment. Journal of Medical Internet Research19(4), p.e104. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7029

Benton, A., Coppersmith, G. and Dredze, M., 2017. Ethical research protocols for social media health research. In Proceedings of the First ACL Workshop on Ethics in Natural Language Processing (pp. 94-102). https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W17-1612.pdf

Boddy, J. and Dominelli, L., 2017. Social media and social work: The challenges of a new ethical space. Australian Social Work70(2), pp.172-184. https://doi.org/10.1080/0312407X.2016.1224907

Crawford, K. and Finn, M., 2015. The limits of crisis data: analytical and ethical challenges of using social and mobile data to understand disasters. GeoJournal80(4), pp.491-502. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-014-9597-z

Denecke, K., Bamidis, P., Bond, C., Gabarron, E., Househ, M., Lau, A.Y.S., Mayer, M.A., Merolli, M. and Hansen, M., 2015. Ethical issues of social media usage in healthcare. Yearbook of medical informatics24(01), pp.137-147. DOI: 10.15265/IY-2015-001

Fiesler, C. and Proferes, N., 2018. “Participant” perceptions of Twitter research ethics. Social Media+ Society4(1), p.2056305118763366. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2056305118763366

Gelinas, L., Pierce, R., Winkler, S., Cohen, I.G., Lynch, H.F. and Bierer, B.E., 2017. Using social media as a research recruitment tool: ethical issues and recommendations. The American Journal of Bioethics17(3), pp.3-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2016.1276644

Goodyear, V.A., 2017. Social media, apps and wearable technologies: navigating ethical dilemmas and procedures. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health9(3), pp.285-302. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2017.1303790 

Henderson, M., Johnson, N.F. and Auld, G., 2013. Silences of ethical practice: dilemmas for researchers using social media. Educational research and evaluation19(6), pp.546-560. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2013.805656

Hennell, K., Limmer, M. and Piacentini, M., 2019. Ethical dilemmas using social media in qualitative social research: A case study of online participant observation. Sociological Research Online, p.1360780419888933. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1360780419888933

Herschel, R. and Miori, V.M., 2017. Ethics & big data. Technology in Society49, pp.31-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2017.03.003

Hunter, R.F., Gough, A., O’Kane, N., McKeown, G., Fitzpatrick, A., Walker, T., McKinley, M., Lee, M. and Kee, F., 2018. Ethical issues in social media research for public health. American journal of public health108(3), pp.343-348. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304249

Kern, M.L., Park, G., Eichstaedt, J.C., Schwartz, H.A., Sap, M., Smith, L.K. and Ungar, L.H., 2016. Gaining insights from social media language: Methodologies and challenges. Psychological methods21(4), p.507. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/met0000091

Lunnay, B., Borlagdan, J., McNaughton, D. and Ward, P., 2015. Ethical use of social media to facilitate qualitative research. Qualitative health research25(1), pp.99-109. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1049732314549031

Rahi, S., 2017. Research design and methods: A systematic review of research paradigms, sampling issues and instruments development. International Journal of Economics & Management Sciences6(2), pp.1-5. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b1cc/c4c1afa4440263cdcad0c4807485fb47e230.pdf

Roberts, L.D., 2015. Ethical issues in conducting qualitative research in online communities. Qualitative Research in Psychology12(3), pp.314-325. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2015.1008909

Roberts, L.D. and Allen, P.J., 2015. Exploring ethical issues associated with using online surveys in educational research. Educational Research and Evaluation21(2), pp.95-108. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2015.1024421

Sheehan, K.B., 2018. Crowdsourcing research: data collection with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Communication Monographs85(1), pp.140-156. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2017.1342043

Shilton, K. and Sayles, S., 2016. We aren’t all going to be on the same page about ethics. Ethical Practices and Challenges in Research on Digital and Social Media. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7427422

Spence, P.R., Lachlan, K.A. and Rainear, A.M., 2016. Social media and crisis research: Data collection and directions. Computers in Human Behavior54, pp.667-672. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.08.045

Stieglitz, S., Mirbabaie, M., Ross, B. and Neuberger, C., 2018. Social media analytics–Challenges in topic discovery, data collection, and data preparation. International journal of information management39, pp.156-168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2017.12.002

Vayena, E., Salathé, M., Madoff, L.C. and Brownstein, J.S., 2015. Ethical challenges of big data in public health. PLoS computational biology11(2). doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003904

Vitak, J., Shilton, K. and Ashktorab, Z., 2016, February. Beyond the Belmont principles: Ethical challenges, practices, and beliefs in the online data research community. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 941-953). https://doi.org/10.1145/2818048.2820078

Weller, K. and Kinder-Kurlanda, K.E., 2016, May. A manifesto for data sharing in social media research. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Web Science (pp. 166-172). https://doi.org/10.1145/2908131.2908172

Wilson, V., 2016. Research methods: Content analysis. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice11(1 (S)), pp.41-43. https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/12180/13124

 

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