[Air-L] facebook research - need some thoughts on facebook, and research ethics

Jennifer deWinter jdewinter at wpi.edu
Wed Mar 4 06:51:32 PST 2009

Stephanie Vie did a dissertation on social networking sites and had to
articulate an ethnographic methodology together before conducting her
research. I know that she has published articles based on the experience. I
copied her on this reply, but it might be worth talking with her since she
worked in Facebook for a year and a half.

On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 5:45 AM, Pearse Stokes <pearsestokes at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi Mary,
> I think the issue you need to resolve is the issue of 'intervention' not
> 'intervention on facebook'.. What is your proposal? What is your research
> question?
> Having broken probably every one of the British Sociological Associations
> ethical guidelines at some point or other I would suggest that you explore a
> "positive/negative" approach. Whereby you argue that the breech of ethics is
> offset by the value of the research. However, intervention is not research
> (I crossed the boundary between research and intervention in my Pro-Ana
> research arguing that I was a human first and an researcher second) so who
> are you to intervene?
> Perhaps if we knew what you were looking at in a bit more detail we could
> help. I love ethical issues! haha.
> Pearse Stokes
>> Message: 2
>> Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2009 13:13:52 -0500
>> From: marybeth deline <mdeline at alumni.sfu.ca>
>> Subject: [Air-L] facebook research - need some thoughts on facebook
>>        and     research ethics
>> To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
>> Message-ID: <516C6197-7713-4D87-98DF-55D6D3072983 at alumni.sfu.ca>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
>> Hi everyone,
>> My name's Mary Beth Deline and I'm currently a graduate candidate at  the
>> University of Waterloo - I'm hoping I can get some help from the  list re:
>> research ethics and Facebook. I'm currently checking out how  feasible my
>> thesis proposal is, which concerns using Facebook as a  site for an
>> intervention - either by developing an application or  posting information
>> on participant's walls (these participant's would  have been recruited
>> beforehand). I've contacted Facebook and they  referred me to their Terms of
>> Services and said that was all they  could do for me. I'm having trouble
>> finding someone who can help me  match that (and their Developer Terms of
>> Service) up to the Canadian  Tri-Council ethical guidelines.
>> If anyone has any experience using Facebook as an intervention site,  or
>> is able to provide guidance/direction on FB and research ethics  (either
>> American or Canadian), could you please get in touch with me,  on or off the
>> list? I've reviewed the Tri-Council's Feb 08  recommendation paper on
>> Internet research and have searched the  archives on this list as well but
>> haven't been able to find anything  specifically about using FB as a
>> research 'site'. Thanks in advance,
>> MB
>> mdeline at alumni.sfu.ca
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Jennifer deWinter, PhD
Assistant Professor of Rhetoric
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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