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Gilbert, S., Vitak, J., & Shilton, K. (2021). Measuring Americans’ Comfort With Research Uses of Their Social Media Data. Social Media + Society, 7(3), 20563051211033824. https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051211033824


Research using online datasets from social media platforms continues to grow in prominence, but recent research suggests that platform users are sometimes uncomfortable with the ways their posts and content are used in research studies. While previous research has suggested that a variety of contextual variables may influence this discomfort, such factors have yet to be isolated and compared. In this article, we present results from a factorial vignette survey of American Facebook users. Findings reveal that researcher domain, content type, purpose of data use, and awareness of data collection all impact respondents’ comfort—measured via judgments of acceptability and concern—with diverse data uses. We provide guidance to researchers and ethics review boards about the ways that user reactions to research uses of their data can serve as a cue for identifying sensitive data types and uses.