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The Ethics of Social Media and Visual Analysis (Right Wing Instagram Tag Data)


User-generated multimedia data can be shared and viewed on social media platforms (Mastykash et al., 2018). A growing number of academics realize that popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can be invaluable resources. Academics can benefit greatly from a wide range of social media features. Because social media is an integral part of people’s daily lives, it provides a unique opportunity to examine reported online behaviors and attitudes naturally. Underprivileged communities can be reached and studied through social media, making it easier to research than before. It is possible that this study could be used in various settings because of its low cost and simple implementation (Tanwar et al., 2019).

There are a number of additional challenges for IRBs that monitor these research protocols due to social media platforms. Do social media environments differ from other research environments regarding dangers and privacy concerns associated with social media? Social media-based research methods have received little to no guidance from government norms, institutions, or current literature (Moreno et al., 2008).

It was found that the most common methods of conducting research were observational, interactive, and survey/interview research. These methods were combined with privacy, authorization, and secrecy as part of the study. Researchers and reviewers should keep these issues in mind when creating or evaluating social media.

Short, 140-character textual information, known as “microblogs” or “tweets,” is commonly used to communicate with others on a social network by profile owners (those who have the exclusive right to publish material from a specific account) via an ongoing, continuously updated RSS feed about such information (Cao, 2021). Pain, smoking cessation, and flu pandemics have all been documented by the Twitter project as having individual patient experiences (Chew and Eysenbach, 2010; Heaivilin et al., 2011; Prochaska et al., 201). YouTube is a video-sharing website where users can upload their videos and view others’. Both amateurs and professionals can make a video. Researchers have looked into the analysis of health information in YouTube videos. According to Paek et al. (2011), Baer and Schwartz (2011) found that YouTube can be used to analyze an individual’s behavior as well as their symptoms (Baer and Schwartz, 2011). In their research, Bowen et al. (2011). A social networking site (SNS) developed by Microsoft to exchange professional and personal data, LinkedIn is now the most popular SNS worldwide. As a result, the website places a high value on its users’ credentials.

To create an online profile and share personal information in the form of text, video, survey questions, or images, as well as to build an online social network by friending other users and communicating via messaging is the most popular social networking site today, Instagram (Lenhart et al., 2010).


Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing social networking platform. Ownership of the site belongs to Facebook. The software allows users to edit and classify their photos and videos before uploading them to the service, which is made possible by numerous filters and geographical information. You can share posts with the full public or only those who have been pre-approved to see them. In addition to browsing other people’s content by tags and places, users may also look at what’s currently trending. “Like” photos or follow other users, and their content will show in a stream for others to see.

Instagram is, for the most part, a vibrant and generally innocuous realm for most people. Users may share gorgeous photographs of nature, travel ideas, recipes, and pictures of adorable animals. A world in which models open up about their personal lives, influencers promote brands, and artists exhibit their work (Papacharissi, 2009). Using the hashtag, users may identify themselves in uploaded images, displaying their current locations and occurrences. It is the policy of Facebook, which has controlled Instagram since 2012, to portray a flawless existence on its social media platform.

The social media platform Instagram, however, contains another universe, a world in which the slogan is “It’s fantastic to be white.” A world in which thousands of right-wing and far-right extremist users feed and extort information and disinformation is being circulated is being described (Vikas and Pooja, 2019).

Instagram’s dynamics are well understood by the people who are at the top of their game. They are well-versed in the art of concealment as well as the art of exploiting evident flaws in the algorithm that governs the platform. These individuals have devised tactics for gaining views using seemingly innocuous photos and hashtags – such as #Trump – that allow them to not only promote extreme information but also recruit new followers to their cause. For this reason, the purpose of this paper is to examine the ethics of social media and visual analysis, as well as the common hazards associated with social media research, and to debate whether these risks are unique to social media or reflect a shift in our current understanding of research risks (Vikas and Pooja, 2019). The right-wing Instagram tag data is the subject of this inquiry, which focuses on the ethics of social media and visual content analysis.

Data collection and analysis

Secondary information was used in the study to analyze right wing Instagram tag data in relation to ethics and visual analysis, which a third party conducted. The information was gathered from a number of sources, including online journals, e-books, and other important websites, among other sources. Compilation and analysis of information on social media privacy, informed permission, anonymity, and the risk of damage associated with its use were carried out in order to collect information on these topics.

Ethics in right-wing Instagram tag data

False profiles with bogus identities are set up by right-wing Instagram users in order to propagate disinformation. Right-wing Instagram users have accumulated a substantial quantity of data by including algorithmic suggestions. They make use of the platform to communicate with one another as well as to promote themselves and their views to a larger audience (Vikas and Pooja, 2019).

The organizations actively recruit new members, abuse them to the point of no return, and use forums such as “Women are employed as showpieces” to do so. Because the algorithm is designed to display users more and more of the same information over time, it is hard to escape being drawn into the algorithm’s web. In this way, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is no different from any other social media network.

The right-wing tags are successful because they blend ill-rooted stuff with innocuous content, therefore normalizing their behavior. With hashtags being so widely used, they are becoming increasingly rare.

When it comes to selling private information, many users don’t realize that service providers are constantly monitoring their online behavior as well as what they store and communicate through their site. The information they store or communicate through their site is being used for the purpose of sharing it with others. In the case of private data, it is essential for users to offer their informed consent, both technically and legally. According to study (Bechmann and Vahlstrup, 2015), social networking sites provide users with information on several levels, yet the user consent forms are not reviewed before approval. Sender or ‘friend/peer’ who distributes the application is relied upon most heavily by users (Bechmann and Vahlstrup, 2015). Instagram accounts’ email and phone numbers can be sold by hackers for profit. For $10 per record, interested parties may search for usernames in a searchable database and acquire customized data (Larson, 2017).

The use of influencers in marketing is growing in popularity. Someone who has a large following on social media platforms is referred to as a social media influencer (Ahmad, 2018). The people who follow them on the internet are committed and more likely than the average person to take their words at face value. A style of marketing that focuses on certain individuals rather than the broader public is known as influencer marketing, according to Forbes (Dada, 2017). Influencer marketing has long been connected with celebrities who feature in TV commercials or influential people who pose for social media images. Although this is no longer the case, Businesses believe that by showcasing people of interest on Instagram to their target audience, consumers would be more inclined to try the product or service that the business offers (Glucksman, 2017). An article in social media today (Ahmad, 2018) states that influencer marketing outperforms traditional digital marketing 11 times, and nearly all marketers that use influencer marketing report a favorable ROI (ROI).

Social media regulatory concerns

Participants in social media research are subjected to the same hazards as those participating in conventional study methods There are three types of studies in social media research: observational, interactive, and survey/interview. These three categories of research are the primary focus of the study. According to each of them, the study examined the relevant hazards and presented those issues within the scope of traditional research, when applicable. The observational research approach is used at the outset of the investigation to prevent privacy problems from the other two research methodologies (Baym and Boyd, 2012; Boyd and Marwick, 2011).

Observational research

In social media research, one of the most difficult issues is determining if the study is appropriate for human participants and, if so, what type of evaluation is required. When an investigator interacts with a human subject or compiles personally identifiable information about that subject, the subject is human. Anyone who meets the following conditions can access social media: A person’s privacy is protected, yet information can be made public if they so choose. Human volunteers are not likely to be utilized in this study because there is no direct interaction with the person who initially gave the data. To illustrate this point, a study of YouTube videos focuses only on content that everyone with an Internet connection may view. That person’s identity does not matter here because the information is not private or critical.

Observational research may be exempt from IRB review if it uses data that is readily available about each participant (IRB, 2020). Any disclosure of subjects’ responses that may reasonably put the subjects at risk of criminal or civic liability and damage their financial standing, employability, or reputation is exempt from this prohibition on subject information disclosure. An investigator would likely conduct this research by looking through public profiles on social networking sites like Instagram or LinkedIn to build a database of findings. To be clear, if the investigator is there to see the alleged misconduct, this category does not apply to children. Even if a person does not engage in a social media interaction, this appears to apply to minors’ stated material on social media.

Social media regulation has recently been amended, which raises new considerations as to whether or not the Institutional Review Board (IRB) should continue to permit the monitoring of public behavior via social media (Lewis, 2008). One state institution’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) examined and interpreted Instagram Rights and Responsibilities Statement, and then there was disagreement over whether social media research should be permitted. If you want to collect information from users, Facebook requires that you get their permission, make it clear you are collecting it, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you are collecting and how you will use it. This argument addresses three important privacy issues in observational and social media research: user participation in privacy protection, website privacy standards, and legal consequences, as Feng et al. (2019) stated.

Involvement of the user in website access and privacy settings

You may be able to customize your privacy settings on social networking platforms, depending on the platform in question. Profile security settings on social networking platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn, for example, allow profile owners to encrypt information that is visible to the general public. In order to keep your profile information private, you may choose between two options: private (which allows only friends whom you have approved to see your profile) or public (which allows anybody to see your profile) settings (i.e., allowing any user access to the profile). The privacy settings can be modified to restrict access to certain profile readers or specific sections of the profile as a whole, for example. Similar possibilities exist on Twitter as well. If participants have the option to select whether or not their given material is publicly available, it is feasible that an IRB will consider the observation of this data to be exempt or otherwise allowed research by the IRB (Peute et al., 2020).

The use of a username and password to log into a website has been considered by certain IRBs when deciding whether or not a website is publicly accessible or privately accessible. A login and password were necessary to access confidential material on a website, and accessing it may result in a security clearance request being denied access. Newer Because many social networking sites only need usernames and passwords for specified purposes or in specific settings, and there has been some debate as to whether that policy should still be considered when making these choices. YouTube, for example, requires users to create a username and password to verify that they are above the legal drinking age before enabling them to publish or watch explicit videos on the site. Anyone may see standard YouTube videos, regardless of whether or not they have an account or password.

A license is not necessary to view YouTube videos, as many people believe. This is wrong. The usage of a username and password on social media sites such as Instagram is required to ensure that only the profile owner contributes material and that relevant advertising is sent to users. However, it is up to the profile owner to determine whether or not the information they have submitted will be made publicly available on the site (Min, 2019). A shift in traditional paradigms of IRB criteria may be required for Internet research.

Legal considerations

In defining what constitutes a privacy breach in a research environment, many institutional review boards (IRBs) refer to court decisions addressing invasions of privacy for advice. According to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, citizens who have a legitimate expectation of privacy are protected against governmental searches. When it comes to what society considers reasonable in light of the individual’s circumstances throughout the search, this expectation is constrained. To give an example, courts have found that an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy within his or her own home, but not in what the individual voluntarily exposes to the general public (for example, photographs) (Weeks et al., 2009). It is widely acknowledged that the right to privacy exists in civil cases involving nongovernmental parties. If a defendant makes public disclosures concerning the plaintiff’s sensitive information, the defendant may be held liable for his or her actions. Many courts use an examination known as the “reasonable expectation of privacy” to determine whether the information alleged to have been disclosed is truly private when examining such claims (Geibel et al., 2009).

Interactive research

When a researcher wants to explore social media information that is not ordinarily available to the general public, he or she may do interactive research. The researcher must first contact the participant and request permission to see the material to collect this information. On Instagram, this might comprise sending someone a friend request. The issuing of a friend request has been criticized for perhaps leading to a misunderstanding of the researcher’s motivations for the interaction. Similarly, access to protected Tweets on Twitter necessitates the researcher becoming a follower of the person in issue, establishing a strong link between the two parties. In today’s social media environment, it is vital to recognize that the phrases friending and following have quite different meanings for individuals who utilize social media. Previous research has shown that Instagram friending is a loose-knit connection, with most friends being associates or acquaintances (Ellison et al., 2007).

The sheer number of Instagram friends is also frequently seen as a sign of high social capital Lin and Lu (2011) and Ellison et al. (2007). The bulk of Twitter users is probably admirers of individuals they have never met in people, such as celebrities and politicians. As a result, both friending and following are unlikely to establish unrealistic expectations of a deep or permanent connection in individuals who engage in them.

For instance, if the researcher is conducting a study with minors, incorporating friending or following would most likely show participation and involvement in the research venue. This study must assess the types of studies requiring parental permission waivers, which must be done. An IRB may authorize a consent method that does not need parental approval as long as the project poses a minimum danger to the participants, the waiver has no negative impact on the subjects’ rights and welfare, and the study could not be carried out effectively without the waiver. Individuals will be supplied with further essential information following their participation if required (Posey and Folger, 2020).

Survey/interview research

Risks regarding consent in the social media arena

In the process of getting informed consent online, there are two major difficulties to take into consideration. An important problem is the absence of human-to-human face-to-face contact. The researcher may not have direct face-to-face interaction with the subject while addressing them on social media or gathering data from their online representations in various settings. Consequently, the researcher may have limited opportunity to observe and record participant reactions to the consent procedure due to this. A lack of physical connection throughout the consent procedure is especially concerning when the research involves acquiring potentially unlawful or stigmatizing information or when the study participant comes from a vulnerable demographic, such as adolescents or mentally challenged individuals.

This is a serious problem, not limited to social media platforms alone. Many research projects use postal surveys and authorization forms, which prevent participants from being contacted after completing the study. The probability of a researcher hearing from participants if they have issues or concerns is also likely to be higher when using online recruiting and consent procedures rather than mail surveys. Given the possibility that individuals may be more driven to lash out inappropriately or flare up when conversing over the Internet, there is an inference that people should have a greater feeling of security and safety while communicating over the Internet. This may lead to more participants contacting the researcher online when experiencing difficulties with an online permission form as opposed to participants calling to voice their concerns about a postal consent form as a result of the study design.

The second issue is obtaining permission from one’s parents. The majority of research projects involving children under the age of 18 require parental approval and minor informed consent unless the study receives a waiver of parental agreement from the parents. It is more difficult to obtain parental approval in a project that includes social media recruiting because the kid will be able to complete the parental permission procedure online in the role of the parent. The fact that adolescents are typically more Internet-savvy than their parents suggests that they find this strategy straightforward. On the other hand, this danger is not limited to social media research. Minors have readily forged their parents’ signatures on traditional paper permission forms, which has happened in the past. A modern adolescent may easily apply both tactics, even though showing a parent’s agreement online by just checking a box may be more convenient than forging a parent’s signature.

Social media confidentiality

Keeping secrets is a key difficulty in social media research, especially when collecting data. Maintaining participant confidentiality in this study, as well as in other studies that employ survey or interview data, is essential. At first glance, website research may appear to be a lower-risk option since participant information may be gathered without obtaining any HIPAA-protected information, such as an address or phone number, that is often required. Online data has the potential to be exceedingly harmful; research that broadcast straight text quotes from social media may be able to identify participants almost immediately. An explicit remark entered into a Google search engine can generate a specific Weblink, such as a link to that person’s LinkedIn page, which allows the participant to be recognized.

It may also be possible to identify participants by presenting them with unique combinations of data tied to them. The criticism leveled at the Tastes, Ties, and Time research served to amplify these concerns (Lewis et al., 2008). This experiment involved obtaining a significant amount of Instagram data from a single university, then analyzed. Because of the peculiarity of the information provided, it was finally possible to ascertain the identities of some individuals. The university was chosen from among the college majors represented in the study sample, located in the United Kingdom.

In addition, some individuals were identified as belonging to a historically underrepresented minority group. Following the publication of this experiment, there has been continued criticism of the lack of confidentiality in Instagram research (Zimmer, 2010).


Researchers should be aware of the hazards associated with direct text quotes and avoid using them when providing social media text quotations from study participants to protect anonymity. In order to avoid participants being identified in their schools or communities, researchers should avoid disclosing personal information about them in methods that may lead to their identification.

In one Instagram section, Applicable to Developers/Operators of Applications and Websites (at the time of writing), it was stated that you will only seek data that is necessary to operate your application. A separate portion of this document advised third parties that you should construct a privacy policy that explains to users what user data you wish to use and how you want to use it as well as how you intend to display, distribute, or transmit it. Researchers might experiment with these concepts by simply gathering the data necessary to answer the research question and presenting that data in a way that does not reveal the identity of the study participants to them.

The fact that each state has its unique, informed consent statute is a little-noticed but critically important point to make. This section discusses how consent should be documented and the age at which consent for specific health conditions can be sought for some children. It is not apparent whether this strategy can be used on social media sites like Instagram. In the case of a researcher based in Illinois and who conducts a multistate survey of Twitter users, which level of regulation should be given precedence? As academics attempt to harness the international research potential given by social media fully, further debate and study of this topic are required.


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