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Informed, uninformed and participative consent in social media research

Nunan, D. and Yenicioglu, B. (2013) Informed, uninformed and participative consent in social media research. International Journal of Market Research, 55 (6). pp. 791-808. ISSN 1470-7853

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The use of online data is becoming increasingly essential for the generation of insight in today’s research environment. This reflects the much wider range of data available online and the key role that social media now plays in interpersonal communication. However, the process of gaining permission to use social media data for research purposes creates a number of significant issues when considering compatibility with professional ethics guidelines. This paper critically explores the application of existing informed consent policies to social media research and compares with the form of consent gained by the social networks themselves, which we label ‘uninformed consent’. We argue that, as currently constructed, informed consent carries assumptions about the nature of privacy that are not consistent with the way that consumers behave in an online environment. On the other hand, uninformed consent relies on asymmetric relationships that are unlikely to succeed in an environment based on co-creation of value. The paper highlights the ethical ambiguity created by current approaches for gaining customer consent, and proposes a new conceptual framework based on participative consent that allows for greater alignment between consumer privacy and ethical concerns.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Marketing and Reputation
ID Code:36905
Publisher:The Market Research Society

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