Research used to be simple, we just asked questions and recorded the answers
Quality control and clients’ wish to observe respondents and hear what they said made us develop rules for getting consent from respondents by explaining research and how we protect respondents privacy and personal data. But what if we are just observing and not asking questions. Over the years ESOMAR has developed guidelines which cover the permissions you need for everything from observing a focus group, through videoing people unobserved when doing ethnographic research to mystery shopping. In every case, the observation is carried out close to the subject being observed, so that it is possible to ask for their permission to hold personal data. Some people argue that holding data on people videoed in a public place is legitimate but, if they are identifiable, it is possible that the wrong person getting the record could cause the respondent harm. Possibly they were not where they were supposed to be, or are doing something which breaks the law. For this reason the ESOMAR Guideline on Passive Data Collection and Observation requires prominent notices to be placed in places where recording is operating and, if appropriate the faces of those being observed should be pixelated to anonymise them.
The explosion of social media has created new ways of collecting data from people. But it has also created new ethical issues. The man on the left is reading the lady’s Blackberry unobserved over her shoulder, the woman on the right is going through someone else’s handbag. Those of you collecting social media data may feel the comparison with going through someone’s handbag is unfair and that the man is not doing anything wrong, but the people whose private conversations and personal effects are being systematically recorded may not feel the same. Those of you who are aware of the Buzzmetric’s case in the US will understand the risks to the image of research and to our ability to collect social media data which unregulated web scraping might create. For this reason, ESOMAR has produced a new guideline on Social Media Research. This is out for consultation until the 21 st March. It is on the ESOMAR website under Professional Standards and there are copies available here at the ESOMAR desk ( is this true??)
Don’t read out, just highlight difference between social; media research and social media data services. Explain this guideline covers SMR not SMDS.
Researchers should check what conditions apply to the content they use from social media and respect any requests for privacy and seek permission to scrape content where this might breach the ToU. Where researchers use third party aggregators for scraping services, the researcher should check that the data has been sourced lawfully.
Don’t read out. Highlight the differences.
Adam Phillips, Session Chair, UK
SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH STANDARDS How researchers can uphold professional and ethical standards and why they should care SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH
<ul><li>Good research is not just about asking questions it is about having a good conversation. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Internet, including blogs, chat rooms, and forums, has changed how people get ideas, share information, communicate in a human voice, ask questions, and respond. Its two-way style has been embraced, changing how people want to learn, connect, and build relationships. Conversations, once key, are now crucial” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>David Maister </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social media is about observing people’s conversations and getting insights. </li></ul>
NEW SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH GUIDELINE <ul><li>Scope </li></ul><ul><li>These guidelines cover the collection of social media data for research purposes. </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers that are engaged in collecting social media data that will be used for purposes other than research must clearly differentiate this activity from their research activities and not misrepresent it as research. </li></ul>
DEFINITIONS <ul><li>Social media is defined as internet based platforms and technologies that permit users’ interaction and/or facilitate the creation and exchange of user generated content. </li></ul><ul><li>Social media data refers to the information (photos, comments, etc.) that users generate or share while engaged in or with social media. </li></ul><ul><li>Social Media Research (SMR) covers all research where social media data is utilised either by itself or in conjunction with information from other sources. Examples of current social media research include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring or crawling social media platforms (from automated monitoring of brand sentiment through to ad-hoc desk research); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnographic research (from observing online behaviour to collecting primary data in various forms, including ‘friending’ users); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Co-creational techniques; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online communities that generate or deliver consumer opinions, reactions, feedback on a regular, formal or systematic basis. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Media Data Services (SMDS) refers to the provision of data from the social media world provided for a non-research purpose. </li></ul>
fake page IT’S IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN BUT IS IT FOR EVERYONE?
DEFINING THE SOCIAL MEDIA SPACE <ul><li>Public space </li></ul><ul><li>A place where content is contributed with the assumption that it could be read by anyone in the public and where contributors could not be surprised that it is linked to/copied/cited. </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-public space </li></ul><ul><li>A place where people contribute content which although technically open to all to read, many would not expect it to be read or used by people not involved in the specific topic or conversation. </li></ul><ul><li>The boundary between public and semi-public space is open to interpretation and researchers are encouraged to act with caution and regard sites as ‘semi-public’ if they have doubts. </li></ul><ul><li>Private space </li></ul><ul><li>A place where most users would expect their comments to be private and which is available only to genuine community members. They are often called ‘walled gardens’ as they can only be accessed after the user has obtained a login and/or password. </li></ul><ul><li>Specific market, social and opinion research space </li></ul><ul><li>An online place specifically created for market, social and opinion research purposes where users have been informed of its function and the use to which their comments might be put. Typically (but not always) these are also private spaces. Examples include Market Research Online Communities (MROC’s), certain online ethnographic and co-creational techniques which utilise social media platforms. </li></ul>
SCRAPING OPTIONS FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES Space Available for researchers Identifiable in reports Cloaking of verbatim quotes in reports (see Appendix 2) 1 Public space Yes, subject to service ToU Yes, except if might cause harm No, only required if it might cause harm 2 Semi-public space Yes, subject to service ToU No, except with user permission More likely to be required than a public space and essential if it might cause harm 3 Private space Only with permission of service No, except with user permission Essential unless user gives permission to cite 4 Market research space Yes Possible, subject to sign up agreement No, only required if it might cause harm