Determining factors of participants' attitudes toward the ethics of social media data research


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Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate the participants' attitudes toward the ethical issues caused by collecting social media data (SMD) for research, as well as the effects of familiarity, trust and altruism on the participants' attitudes toward the ethics of SMD research. It is hoped that through this study, scholars will be reminded to respect participants and engage in ethical reflection when using SMD in research. Design/methodology/approach This study adopted social media users as its research subjects and used Sina Microblog, the world's largest Chinese social media platform, as the example. Based on the 320 valid responses collected from a survey, structural equation modeling was employed to examine the research model. Findings The results indicated that altruism, familiarity and trust have significant influences on participants' attitudes toward the ethics of SMD research, and familiarity also influences attitudes through the mediating role of trust and altruism. Originality/value This study explored the mechanism underlying the relationship between the determining factors and participants' attitudes toward the ethics of SMD research, and the results demonstrated that the informed consent mechanism is an effective way to communicate with participants and that the guiding responsibility of the platform should be improved to standardize SMD research.
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Key words
Social media data research, Ethics, Attitudes, Trust, Familiarity, Altruism
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