[Air-L] Ethical guidelines for Instagram

Annette Markham amarkham at gmail.com
Fri May 20 06:53:33 PDT 2016

Hi Maria,

This is just a quick response and I hope others also add to this
conversation. There are many guidelines about studying sensitive topics or
vulnerable populations written in past decades. These are still extremely
relevant to any ethnographic or qualitative study of your topic, even if
you're researching through instagram. So these classic texts about social
research ethics would be useful to review. Specifically, you might start

Undertaking Sensitive Research: issues and strategies for meeting the
safety needs of all participants. Article by heather McCosker, Alan
Barnard, and Rod Gerber

Doing Research on Sensitive Topics. Book by Raymond Lee


Ethics for anthropological research and practice. Book:

ASA code of ethics has definitions of vulnerability

Most associations associated with an academic discipline will have codes of
ethics, or discussions of best practices.  These differ by discipline,
region, or country.  So one way to consider how you might take a proactive
and responsible approach is to start learning about what would constitute
ethical practice.... I'd start by browsing through google, and look at the
different approaches for social research ethics in psychology, sociology,
education, and anthropology. Then, I'd take a look at your institution's
guidelines.  I don't mean to be pedantic, but I don't know how much you
know about how ethics guidelines are developed or where they're located.
Mark Johns' advice to see the AOIR ethics guide = a good start, too.

Finally, I would recommend the work of Katrin Tiidenberg, which is focused
specifically on instagram, ethics, and potentially vulnerable populations.

hope that helps.


Annette N. Markham, Ph.D.
Professor MSO, School of Communication & Culture, Aarhus University
Affiliate Professor, School of Communication, Loyola University, Chicago
amarkham at gmail.com
Twitter: annettemarkham

On Thu, May 19, 2016 at 7:50 PM, María González Aguado <
mariagaguado at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear members,
> I'm writing you asking for ethical advice to conduct ethnography on
> Instagram. I'll really appreciate if you could let me know if there are any
> ethical guidelines or publications on how to conduct online research with
> people undergoing severe mental conditions, and if there is anything
> specific for Instagram. The only ones I know are the guidelines of the
> British Psychological Association. In the same way, if any of you are
> working online on sensitive topics, any advice is welcomed.
> Thanks a lot in advance.
> Best wishes,
> María
> --
> María González Aguado
> Research Fellow- Department of Sociology
> University of Leicester
> University Road
> Leicester
> LE1 7RH, UK
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