Are we getting it right? Social media users' views on social media research

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Presentation by Gareth Morell of NatCen at 3rd Annual Social Media in Social Research Conference 24th June 2013

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  • Gareth- Welcome and context of trainee programme We are research trainees and this study is part of our learning and development. An opportunity to develop, construct and lead on a discrete research project while being supported by experienced, senior researchers
  • KELSEY During this session we will discuss progress on our qualitative study looking at user’s perspectives of online research, using social media. First, I’ll tell you a little about how the study came about, and what our objectives are. Then Natalie will discuss the methodology before Alex provides the emerging themes.
  • KELSEY Background to the research: 1.Clear need for better understanding of ethical issues in SM research 2. Lit review and network shows the trend to apply traditional ethical principles to online but not always appropriate 3. Need for flexible principals 4. Helped by moral theory and existing principles but MISSING THE VOICE OF USERS -------------------------------------------------------------- It almost goes without saying there is a clear need in research for better understanding of ethical issues as they apply to SM research lit review NatCen’s innovative cross-sector network There is a real gap in our knowledge and this negatively impacts on the rigueur and robustness of SM research. Need for flexible principles that can be adapted to the ever-changing virtual environment. so while researchers can be helped by moral theory and existing ethical guidelines, the voice of the public is largely missing and is an essential element of the debate. It is for these reasons we are exploring user’s perspectives of how they understand their digital identity, what they understand about social media platforms and what they think about their information being used in social media research.
  • KELSEY We have 5 main research objectives. Plaese note that not all of these objectives are discussed later in the presentation, such as what sites people use because of the time we have and that this is rather descriptive and something most people are aware of. Specifically we are looking to better understand what sites people use and how they understand the sharing of info online We are exploring people’s views on their information from social media being used in research Their perceived benefits and harms of using SM for research If that isn’t ambitious enough we seek to support good practice by developing 1. Principles for using social media information in research which is informed by user’s views Now Natalie will share how we went about meeting these objectives.
  • Methodological approach Qualitative study Followed up BSA survey, survey of (include no.) adults over 18, covers political, moral and social, particularly useful as asks about peoples internet usage so was perfect to use as sample frame. We wanted to speak to people who used the internet and this is a key criteria for being included in our study. In qual research not statistically representative sample but wanted to achieve range and diversity across a number of sampling criteria. These were: Level of social media usage we defined low users who… med users who… high users… what we tried to achieved is that participants had a similar level of social media usage Also wanted some variation in terms of how people use social media sites we wanted to included people who upload content and share information as well as people who view content and of course variation in key demographics such as age, gender and ethnicity We decided to use focus groups as the methodological approach as they allow individuals to collectively share views on issues that many not be front of mind; that is, issues that they may not necessarily think of if they were participating in a one-to-one interview. Focus groups also offer greater efficiency in accessing a range of perspectives in one setting so we agreed that this would be the best approach. As I previously discussed we wanted to gather participants views from a range of different social media users; those that don’t access social media sites or rarely use them (once a week), those that are medium users so they use social media sites once a day and then high users, those that use social media several times a day. It was important to have a mix of such users as we felt they may have different perspectives depending on how often they use social media websites. To determine the categorisation of participants into social media usage a screening questionnaire was used where participants self-identified what category they fit in to. We wanted to ensure that there was also a variation within each focus group with respect to age, gender, ethnicity and How they use social networks websites i.e post information, upload content, read others information. We anticipated that recruiting an appropriate sample size for our focus groups might be problematic given that our recruitment source is from a survey sample. Therefore we monitored for this information rather than setting specific quotas.
  • Add in table on what we achieved WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED SO FAR As Kelsey/Gareth explained at the beginning of this presentation, this is an interim PowerPoint showing our preliminary findings so we are yet to complete all our focus groups. So I will take you through what we have achieved so far. We have conducted two focus groups with 8 of each, one group with mixed users and one with low/medium users. In addition we have captured a range of views through 4 in-depth interviews with medium and high users. WHAT WE PLAN NEXT As well as the face to face focus groups and interviews that we have carried out we also intend to use a slightly different technique by setting up two online discussion groups with participants using a platform called VisionsLive. We will be using the BSA survey dataset again but recruiting a individuals from different geographical locations. The benefits of conducting online discussion groups is that: There are no geographical restrictions so we can recruit participants where it might have been difficult to in our face to face groups i.e. those living in rural locations. Participants are anonymous from each other which may encourage more open and honest discussion Reduces burden on participants (no travel, can sit in the comfort of their own home) Efficiency as transcripts are immediately available Cost-effective May elicit different responses than face to face groups which will be interesting to see
  • By that we mean social researchers using data from social media to answer their research questions. Because the topic is abstract and draws on peoples every day experiences the vignettes helped participants to articulate their views BACKGROUND We wanted to find out a bit about the participants social media background around the sites they use, what kind of information they put online whether it be text, photos or video and how they share information on the websites as well as who they share their information with and how comfortable they feel about sharing information. INFORMATION SHARING This section looked at what participants know about who is looking at their information on social media and how the information is used. Whether they have thought about this issue before Who they think looks at their information e.g. friends, family, colleagues, researchers Who they think owns their information on social media And how they think their information is used How they find out about information from social media and privacy issues INFORMATION SHARING USED BY RESEARCH Discussed what they think about information from social media sites being used for research either using their written or visual information and how it varies upon the website, the type of information, why the research is being conducted (public good/commercial or market research), research topic (sensitive). RECOMMENDATIONS Discussed with participants what they think the main benefits and challenges are for researchers to use information from social media for their research. Focussing on any benefits or risks to individuals users of social media, researchers and society and asked participants if they had any advice for researchers who wanted to use information from social media websites for research. We acknowledged that the topic of our research and the questions that we were asking were quite difficult to explain to participants who a) may not be familiar with social research and b) may not be aware of some of the social media terminology so it was important to make sure we articulated it in a way that could be understood by everyone in the focus group, therefore we used vignettes to illustrate key points for example. I am now going to pass over to Alex who will now explain our preliminary findings.
  • We are still doing fieldwork so it is important note that these are only the very first findings. We’ve organised the data into 4 key areas based on these emerging views
  • 4 themes emerging from the data. I will take each in turn.
  • ALEX ..affect ppls views on the ethics of online research -no Q’s -SR can purchase -Intellectual property. FB own, morally theirs Both the level of awareness and understanding, and someone's online behaviours, effect their views on the ethics of SM research View that 1.the data can be accessed and used by anyone, no Q’s asked 2.eg twitter owns what you say. A SR would have to purchase the info off twitter (even though its an open platform) – talk later about how ppl felt about this 3.some spoke of ‘intellectual property’ – what they post belongs to them. Understood that FB technically ‘owned’ it but felt morally they owned it
  • -Don’t understand, YP -aware, self reg. aware, confused -knowledgeable -2 case studies 1. Minimal awareness (*people who do not understand need for or set up of privacy settings on platforms. I.e. children who don't see the point or don’t comprehend rationale for them.) 2. Aware, don't use (*People who are aware of privacy settings but do not use them (bc too complex) . i.e. FB is public because woman self-regulates her content so not concerned about other's viewing it. ‘FB changes its privacy setting every week- I don’t understand them – These people most likely to self regulate) 3. Aware, use (*People who have an understanding of what privacy settings are, how to set them and do actually use them) 4. Proactive and confident (Less common, but people who have an advanced understanding of privacy settings and regularly adjust them to suit their needs (1. with high usage of multiple platforms and other low usage, stopped all cookies & untraceable of fb)
  • Another thing affected views.. -friends/fam -linked in/clients -rare toys, collectors/ celeb/ interest forum Examples- Social keeping in touch with friends/family, work, ie twitter, and interests – ie, collects rare toys, uses is to keep in touch with other collectors following celebs and chatting on interest forums Ie photo, name ? Eg teacher Active member of religious forum (uses an aviator & pseudonym) –RISK FROM ADULT USERS, ASHLEY TO EXPLAIN Interesting to note that a concern that wasn’t mentioned was ppl using their info for research purposes Both the level of awareness and understanding, and someone's online behaviours, effect their views on the ethics of SM research
  • Important to note when drawing out findings that we are applying concepts of research ethics to the data, rather than letting them emerge from data Many of these factors also affected consent, explain next..
  • Level ppl felt SR need varied on: -twitter open, FB mandatory -less import for words, photos personal -mundane vs sensitive. Olympics vs drug use Level of consent ppl felt researchers would need varied on… 1. twitter/fb/ you tube (mandatory fb, twitter open access) 2. written, video, picture- ppl felt less important to get consent when just words/quote as they're already out there/taken out of context, however videos/photos are MUCH more identifiable 3.Sensitivity. Topic is mundane vs sensitive. Ie about the olympics/tfl vs sexual behaviour/drug use
  • Original aim = publics view on the ethics of social research using SM. However something that came up in every group, was a wider awareness and opinion of SR in general
  • Level ppl felt SR need varied on: -twitter open, FB mandatory -less import for words, photos personal -mundane vs sensitive. Olympics vs drug use Level of consent ppl felt researchers would need varied on… 1. twitter/fb/ you tube (mandatory fb, twitter open access) 2. written, video, picture- ppl felt less important to get consent when just words/quote as they're already out there/taken out of context, however videos/photos are MUCH more identifiable 3.Sensitivity. Topic is mundane vs sensitive. Ie about the olympics/tfl vs sexual behaviour/drug use
  • Level ppl felt SR need varied on: -twitter open, FB mandatory -less import for words, photos personal -mundane vs sensitive. Olympics vs drug use Level of consent ppl felt researchers would need varied on… 1. twitter/fb/ you tube (mandatory fb, twitter open access) 2. written, video, picture- ppl felt less important to get consent when just words/quote as they're already out there/taken out of context, however videos/photos are MUCH more identifiable 3.Sensitivity. Topic is mundane vs sensitive. Ie about the olympics/tfl vs sexual behaviour/drug use
  • -Comfortable if ‘does good’ or ‘enhances knowledge’ -unhappy profit/ exploit -Isn't legally theirs, but moral rights More comfortable with socially beneficial research– if it ‘does good’ or ‘enhances knowledge’ v unhappy with people making a profit /exploiting them Understanding that although the info isnt legally their anymore, they ‘morally’ have rights over it
  • Surprised at the passion and interest in the quality and rigour of SM research -Pos v Neg -bold /more p.c Important to note this isn't something we asked about, yet it emerged from EVERY group/int Ie Olympics online people are a refined/inflated version of themselves what value does it even have if its not a real reflection of society?
  • ALEX
  • Surprised at the passion and interest in the quality and rigour of SM research -Pos v Neg -bold /more p.c Important to note this isn't something we asked about, yet it emerged from EVERY group/int Ie Olympics online people are a refined/inflated version of themselves what value does it even have if its not a real reflection of society?
  • ALEX
  • Surprised at the passion and interest in the quality and rigour of SM research -Pos v Neg -bold /more p.c Important to note this isn't something we asked about, yet it emerged from EVERY group/int Ie Olympics online people are a refined/inflated version of themselves what value does it even have if its not a real reflection of society?
  • ALEX
  • KELSEY
  • KELSEY Thanks Alex. It’s exciting times! As Alex said earlier, this is very much an exploratory study and we are only part way through our data collection. Despite this, it is becoming clear that there are questions that we as researchers need to consider as we move forward with social media research. Those we have spoken to have questions and reservations about appropriateness of SM for research. What can we do to better articulate the rational for using SM in research? Within the range of views it is clear some expect consent and anonymisation. Is this feasible? How can we improve this process and satisfy the expectations of the public? It is unclear whether the views we heard are a result of a specific platform or a result of the nature of the content, or a fluid combination of both. We need more research into the day-to-day behaviours of social media users to tease this out further. It is no surprise that people have a wide range of understanding and awareness of social media and it’s use in research so we need to always check that we are making no assumptions
  • KELSEY So what’s next for this study? We will be conducting online focus groups to capture more geographically spread views and tease out some of the preliminary findings described earlier. Conduct analysis and draft a formal report And we have an ambitious dissemination plan which, in part, includes the above.
  • KELSEY Thank you very much for your time. Are there any questions or comments before we break for lunch?
  • Are we getting it right? Social media users' views on social media research

    1. 1. Are we getting it right?Social media users’ views onsocial media researchKelsey Beninger, Alexandra Fry & Natalie Jago
    2. 2. TheContext1
    3. 3. Mind the Gap! Obligation to act ethically in research usingsocial media Unclear and rigid principles of good practice Useful moral theory and ethical guidelines Knowledge gap: flexible application anduser’s perspectives
    4. 4. Research ObjectivesTo understand… What social media sites people use, and how What people think about how information is used and sharedonlineTo explore… Views on their information being used by researchers The perceived benefits and harms of using social media forresearch purposesTo contributeto wider discussionson Ethical principles of using information from social media forresearch, informed by the views of users
    5. 5. Methodology2
    6. 6. Methodological ApproachQualitative research using British Social Attitudes 29 sampleFocus group participants grouped according to level of social mediausageVariation within each group with respect to: How they use social media (posting and/or viewing content) Age Gender Ethnicity7LOW:use social mediaonce a week; lessthan once a weekMEDIUM:use socialmedia once a day;several times a weekHIGH:use socialmedia severaltimes a day
    7. 7. FieldworkWhat wehaveachieved so far 2 focus groups1. Mixed users2. Low/medium users 4 interviews with medium/highusers8What weplan next 2 online groups No geographical restrictions Different responses Flexibility
    8. 8. Conducting the GroupsTopic guidesHow people use social mediaWhat they know about who can look at and use theirinformationViews on the ethics of online research using social mediaKey messages for the research communityVignettesStimulate thinkingHelp participants to discuss research topic more deeply
    9. 9. PreliminaryFindings3
    10. 10. Emerging ThemesAwarenessand UnderstandingManaging OnlineBehavioursEthicsof Social Media ResearchQuality of Social Media Research
    11. 11. Awareness & Understanding@Data ownershipLarge variation in understanding of who owns what. Open access- ‘once it’s online, it’s not yours’ Social media platforms own data Individual ownership of the data
    12. 12. Awareness & UnderstandingOnline privacy People span a continuum of awareness of onlineprivacy Some people make deliberate choices but aware ofother’s who are less informed@
    13. 13. Managing Online BehavioursPeople use a wide range of sites for a variety of reasons Purpose (social, work, interests ) Information types (photo, text, video)Managing behaviours depends on: How identifiable they are Personal sensitivity of informationConcerns behind managing behaviour Reputational: professional, personal Criminal: identity theft, fraud, online stalking, grooming
    14. 14. Ethics of Social MediaResearchAnonymityConsistent view that names should always beprotected in the report findingsHowever…The degree of anonymity, i.e. the use of direct quotes,twitter handles, identifying characteristics etc varied ona number of factors.
    15. 15. Ethics of Social MediaResearchConsentDependent on 3 main factors:PlatformType of information (text, photos, videos)Content of information (i.e. research topic)
    16. 16. I publish things ontwitter for other peopleto read, its slightlydifferent than usingFacebookWhat participants said
    17. 17. Ethics of Social MediaResearchConsentDependent on 3 main factors:PlatformType of information (text, photos, videos)Content of information (i.e. research topic)
    18. 18. If you write something,anyone could havewritten it, but with apicture they know its youWhat participants said
    19. 19. Ethics of Social MediaResearchConsentDependent on 3 main factors:PlatformType of information (text, photos, videos)Content of information (i.e. research topic)
    20. 20. Your views on the Olympicgames, at the end of theday are general, quitegeneric. but if its sexual,political youve got to becarefulWhat participants said
    21. 21. Acceptance of social media researchdependent on purpose:Aims of researchProfit vs. not for profitEthics of Social MediaResearch
    22. 22. Quality of Social MediaResearchCriticisms about rigour of social media researchOnline favours extreme viewsOnline personas are inflated/refinedYields poor quality data & an ‘inaccurate’ depiction?
    23. 23. Quality issue, yes. Do Ihave a problem with peoplelooking at it? No, if youredaft enough to put it upthere and out there andyouve got it to say thencertainlyWhat participants said
    24. 24. Quality of Social MediaResearchCriticisms about rigour of social media researchOnline favours extreme viewsOnline persona’s are inflated/refinedYields poor quality data & an ‘inaccurate’ depiction?
    25. 25. You’re getting twoextremes but areyou getting themiddle ground?What participants said
    26. 26. Quality of Social MediaResearchCriticisms about rigour of social media researchOnline favours extreme viewsOnline persona’s are inflated/refinedYields poor quality data & an ‘inaccurate’ depiction?
    27. 27. What data are youeven using- Are youusing me, or myonline persona?What participants said
    28. 28. Implications & What’sNext?4
    29. 29. Questions to Consider so FarAppropriateness of social media for researchSome clearly expect to be asked to give consentand to not be identifiableUnclear whether people’s views are a result of aplatform or because of nature of the contentWide range of understanding and awareness somake no assumptions
    30. 30. What’s Next?•Online focus groups•Full analysis & report•Future dissemination plans Social Media Week: 23-27 Sept Articles: SRA September Newsletter Blogs: NSMNSS, NatCen
    31. 31. Thank you forlisteningAny Questions?

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