Informed consent for linking survey and social media data

Informed consent for linking survey and social media data
Johannes Breuer, Tarek Al Baghal, Luke Sloan, Libby Bishop, Dimitra Kondyli, Apostolos Linardis
IASSIST Quarterly, 2021; 45(1) pp 1-27
Open Access
Abstract
Linking social media data with survey data is a way to combine the unique strengths and address some of the respective limitations of these two data types. As such, linked data can be quite disclosive and potentially sensitive, it is important that researchers obtain informed consent from the individuals whose data are being linked. When formulating appropriate informed consent, there are several things that researchers need to take into account. Besides legal and ethical questions, key considerations are the differences between platforms and data types. Depending on what type of social media data is collected, how the data are collected, and from which platform(s), different points need to be addressed in the informed consent. In this paper, we present three case studies in which survey data were linked with data from 1) Twitter, 2) Facebook, and 3) LinkedIn and discuss how the specific features of the platforms and data collection methods were covered in the informed consent. We compare the key attributes of these platforms that are relevant for the formulation of informed consent and also discuss scenarios of social media data collection and linking in which obtaining informed consent is not necessary. By presenting the specific case studies as well as general considerations, this paper is meant to provide guidance on informed consent for linked survey and social media data for both researchers and archivists working with this type of data.

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