Research ethics and social networking

Science of the Invisible: Research Ethics in the MySpace Era

A better analogy for research on social networking Web sites would be research on newspaper personal ads. Similar to a MySpace profile, the information is intended to be available to the public and invites correspondence. Both the personal ad and a MySpace profile may contain very personal and intimate information, but this information has been
selected by its owner to be published in a public forum. The “subjects” might claim that they did not intend for the information to be used for research purposes, but they could not plausibly claim that the information was private.