This one-day workshop will be structured to facilitate discussion of ethical challenges faced by researchers working with social media and other big data sources. Over the course of one day, we will present and discuss case studies and hypotheticals, conduct brainstorming sessions, and emerge with ideas for best practices. We also recognize that this is a space that is bound to present more questions than answers, and our goal is to encourage and facilitate more conversation about these issues outside the confines of the workshop.

The outcome of this workshop will be to generate a workshop report that identifies key issues and future actions. These will be drawn from our collaborative ideas for best practices, illustrative case studies, recommendations for IRB submissions, and proposals for future collaborations and dialogue with individuals across industry and academia.

Though we anticipate adjusting the exact program based on the make-up of our participants, the basic structure of activities (spaced out across a roughly 8-hour workshop day, with a break for lunch) includes:

  • A small number of brief presentations from participants focusing on case studies of actual ethical dilemmas faced or approaches adopted
  • Group brainstorming about open questions and challenges for social media research ethics
  • Small group activities around real or hypothetical scenarios (drawn from our participants, as well as from established case examples such as those from the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society), focused on identifying ethical pain points for researchers and brainstorming solutions
  • Small group “task force” discussions about one particular ethical challenge (e.g., use of public data, anonymization, sensitive communities), focused on the trade-offs of different approaches
  • Group debate around and formulation of a set of best practices for social media researchers as well as data professionals