Student Researcher, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
All Sessions by Blythe Vincent
Friday April 12th
B3-1: Pics, Dicks, Tits, and Tats: Methodological and ethical negotiations working with images of bodies in social media research
14:45 - 15:30
The prominent work of scholars like Charles Ess, Elizabeth Buchanan, Annette Markham, and Michael Zimmer have informed guidelines and policies on digital ethics and Internet research globally since the 1990’s. Digital ethics evolves alongside the evolution of technologies themselves, and with the rise of camera-enabled cellphones and social media platforms that focus on vernacular images (e.g. Instagram™ and Snapchat™), researchers and research ethics boards (REBs/IRBs) increasingly seek guidelines and best practices for research using digital images of bodies shared on social media directly, as data, or indirectly, as prompts. This research project presents the findings of in-depth interviews with 16 researchers who have received institutional ethics approval to study images of bodies shared on social media platforms. The interviews explored the researchers’: a) processes of selecting their methodologies, b) experiences getting ethics approval from institutional review boards, and c) personal research ethics that emerged working with images of bodies from their respective populations of study. The findings indicate that researchers and review boards generally lack resources to handle the ethical quandaries of this sort of research. Researchers often adopt a feminist materialist ethics of care, which includes consideration of the human and non-human forces at play in digital visual research. Researchers all practiced some degree of contextual integrity when using online data. The findings also indicate that scholars practice a series of creatively maverick strategies to protect their participants including: on-going consent, “ethics-on-the-go”, and ethical fabrication like conscious omission.
Keywords: Digital ethics, social media, qualitative methods, feminist new materialism, posthumanism