‘Cambridge Moralica’ - Towards an Ethical Framework for Social Media Analytics

  • Anna-Katharina Jung University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Sünje Clausen University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Aline Shatki Franzke University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Julian Marx University of Duisburg-Essen
Keywords: social media analytics, research ethics, design science research


En route to the unravelling of today’s multiplicity of societal challenges, making sense of social data has become a crucial endeavour in Information Systems (IS) research. In this context, Social Media Analytics (SMA) has evolved to a promising field of data-driven approaches, guiding researchers in the process of collecting, analysing, and visualising social media data. However, the handling of such sensitive data requires careful ethical considerations to protect data subjects, online communities, and researchers. Hitherto, the field lacks consensus on how to safeguard ethical conduct throughout the research process. To address this shortcoming, this study proposes an extended version of a SMA framework by incorporating ethical reflection phases as an addition to methodical steps. Following a design science approach, existing ethics guidelines and expert interviews with SMA researchers and ethicists serve as the basis for redesigning the framework. It was eventually assessed through multiple rounds of evaluation in the form of focus group discussions and questionnaires with ethics board members and SMA experts. The extended framework, encompassing a total of five iterative ethical reflection phases, provides simplified ethical guidance for SMA researchers and facilitates the ethical self-examination of research projects involving social media data.


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How to Cite
Jung, A.-K., Clausen, S., Franzke, A. S., & Marx, J. (2022). ‘Cambridge Moralica’ - Towards an Ethical Framework for Social Media Analytics. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 26. https://doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v26i0.3121
Research on Applied Ethics