[Air-L] To blur or not to blur? Twitter profile pics and handles

Jodi Sperber jsperber at brandeis.edu
Fri Jun 12 11:35:27 PDT 2015

Hello, AoIR community.

I'm in search other's experience or advice regarding the use of Twitter
handles and profile images within research. Not a new topic, I know. But
one that is far from settled.

My dissertation research is focused on a specific health community formed
on Twitter, bound by a specific hashtag. They host a popular weekly chat,
but frequently post otherwise as well (overall, they average around 1400
tweets/week). There is nothing I can see that would be embarrassing or
private about the pics and handles; to the contrary I think they add
context and depth to the content as they often provide insight as to how a
user chooses to present themselves.

I searched the archives of this list and found a small number of previous
posts, including one from August 2014 (thank you, Charles Ess!) regarding
the use of images, but these were for politicians, who are generally
expected to have higher public visibility than general citizens
participating in a (still public) hashtag-bound community. I've also gone
back to the AoIR ethical guidelines doc, which is helpful to consider
angles of the question; the debate still lingers in my head, however.

Any thoughts or resources you might have on this topic would be most

Thank you,

Jodi Sperber, MSW, MPH
Stalk: Twitter: jsperber <https://twitter.com/jsperber>
Skype: jodisperber
Read: www.healthissocial.net

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