In home passive sensor data collection and its implications for social media research: perspectives of community women in rural South Africa

SOURCE: Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): A.Van Heerden, D.Wassenaar, Z.Essack, K.Vilakazi, B.A.Kohrt
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 11031
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/14950

Download this report

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at


There has been a recent increase in debates on the ethics of social media research, passive sensor data collection, and big data analytics. However, little evidence exists to describe how people experience and understand these applications of technology. This study aimed to passively collect data from mobile phone sensors, lapel cameras, and Bluetooth beacons to assess peoples understanding and acceptance of these technologies. Seven households were purposefully sampled and data collected for 10 days. The study generated 48 hr of audio data and 30,000 images. After participant review, the data were destroyed and in-depth interviews conducted. Participants found the data collected acceptable and reported willingness to participate in similar studies. Key risks included that the camera could capture nudity and sex acts, but family review of footage before sharing helped reduce concerns. The Emanuel et al. ethics framework was found to accommodate the concerns and perspectives of study participants.