[Air-L] Research ethics on musical.ly project

Ioana Literat il2311 at tc.columbia.edu
Thu Jan 11 15:24:17 PST 2018

Dear AoIR community,

My colleague Neta Kligler-Vilenchik and I are embarking on a project that deals with young people's political expression on the musical.ly app, and we would appreciate any thoughts you have on the ethical design of this research.

Specifically, we are interested in how young people use memetic dimensions to collectively express political affiliations, and are thus looking at use of two major political hashtags on the application. We are using a mixed methods approach and plan to quantitatively code a large dataset of around 1800 videos posted on the app, so we will rely heavily on the aggregated quantitative data; however, in mentioning examples, we would like to take extra precautions because many if not most users of musical.ly are minors.

The only information readers would have about the participants is the hashtag used by the creators (which constitutes our inclusion criteria for the sample). We will be anonymizing usernames, will not include screenshots where users are visible, and we will talk about examples in a non-specific way, without using searchable quotes. The musical.ly app has very limited search capabilities, as you are only able to search by tag, username or audio soundtrack.

Beyond these steps, do you have any other suggestions we should take into account in our approach, and our IRB application? 

Thank you in advance,
Ioana and Neta

Ioana Literat, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design
Teachers College, Columbia University 
literat at tc.columbia.edu 

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