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Research Using Social Media and Online Survey Sites

Although using social media is a time saving and cost effective way to conduct research and gather data, researchers are cautioned to remember that no matter how data are collected, researchers must follow ethical and legal guidelines when the data are collected from human subjects.

If you are using social media sites such as Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, etc., it is your responsibility to become familiar with the site’s terms and policies on privacy matters. The site you want to use may specifically restrict research being done on the site; there may be few, if any, controls on privacy. If your project assures anonymity and confidentiality to the subject, the site may not be safe, and privacy issues may be violated.

Please follow the same protocol if you are using third party sites such as MTurk, Survey Monkey and Qualtrics for example. Information you gather, may be used for other purposes by those sites which would be in violation of your informed Consent contract with the subject. 

Using these sites may compromise your data storage, data access (especially assuring privacy), and breaching confidentiality when presenting your findings. Use caution, and adhere to the ethical issues that govern research with human subjects.