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Bishop, L., & Gray, D. (2017). Ethical Challenges of Publishing and Sharing Social Media Research Data. In K. Woodfield (Ed.), The Ethics of Online Research (pp. 159–188). Emerald Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2398-601820180000002007


The focus of this chapter is the intersection of social media, publication, data sharing, and research ethics. By now there is an extensive literature on the use of social media in research. There is also excellent work on challenges of postpublication sharing of social media, primarily focused on legal restrictions, technical infrastructure, and documentation. This chapter attempts to build upon and extend this work by using cases to deepen the analysis of ethical issues arising from publishing and sharing social media data. Publishing will refer to the presentation of data extracts, aggregations, or summaries, while sharing refers to the practice of making the underlying data available postpublication for others to use. It will look at the ethical questions that arise both for researchers (or others) sharing data, and those who are using data that has been made available by others, emphasizing the inherently relational nature of data sharing. The ethical challenges researchers face when considering sharing usergenerated content collected from social media platforms are the focus of the cases. The chapter begins by summarizing the general principles of research ethics, then identifies the specific ethical challenges from sharing social media data and positions these challenges in the context of these general principles. These challenges are then analyzed in more detail with cases from research projects that drew upon several different genres of social media. The chapter concludes with some recommendations for practical guidance and considers the future of ethical practice in sharing social media data.