Does it seem ethically problematic to recruit experimental subjects by way of a facebook post? I’m thinking of a project that has permission to recruit by word-of-mouth, by announcements posted to listservs, by posters hung up around campus or elsewhere in the city or passed out in person, etc. That is, permission for a pretty broad range of recruitment activities is in place. This is for a low-to-no-risk speech perception experiment. One could begin the facebook post with “People in X city:” or such, since it’s an in-person experiment. Facebook seems like a combination of a listserv with word-of-mouth. Just to clarify: I haven’t done this, but I’ve considered it. I’m curious what others think.
I was involved in a study that was trying to recruit a particular population; this was pre-facebook, so we were thinking of posting to a listserv. I honestly can’t remember what the problems were (whether it was how we proposed to reimburse subjects or something else), so I am going to send your post to the PIs on the project and see what they said.
I don’t see any problem with it. I’ve been trying to imagine what adverse implications there could be that would be different from normal advertising.
Here’s the reply I got from my colleague Lorraine Delhorne at MIT:
This has been a hot topic for IRBs. You will probably find more information on this topic through Prim&r (www.primr.org) than through ASHA. Even though an investigator has permission to recruit by word of mouth, posters, etc., s/he would need to send an amendment to the IRB and ask for permission to add social media to the recruitment methods.
Here are a few more links that may be useful.
2012 Social Media in Recruitment Conference
We can try to write in the future the ethics of facebook!