Ethical Issues in Social Media Research for Public Health.
Am J Public Health. 2018 Jan 18;:e1-e6
Authors: Hunter RF, Gough A, O'Kane N, McKeown G, Fitzpatrick A, Walker T, McKinley M, Lee M, Kee F
Social media (SM) offer huge potential for public health research, serving as a vehicle for surveillance, delivery of health interventions, recruitment to trials, collection of data, and dissemination. However, the networked nature of the data means they are riddled with ethical challenges, and no clear consensus has emerged as to the ethical handling of such data. This article outlines the key ethical concerns for public health researchers using SM and discusses how these concerns might best be addressed. Key issues discussed include privacy; anonymity and confidentiality; authenticity; the rapidly changing SM environment; informed consent; recruitment, voluntary participation, and sampling; minimizing harm; and data security and management. Despite the obvious need, producing a set of prescriptive guidelines for researchers using SM is difficult because the field is evolving quickly. What is clear, however, is that the ethical issues connected to SM-related public health research are also growing. Most importantly, public health researchers must work within the ethical principles set out by the Declaration of Helsinki that protect individual users first and foremost. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 18, 2018: e1-e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.304249).
PMID: 29346005 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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