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Title: A Systematic Review of Ethics Disclosures in Predictive Mental Health Research
Applied machine learning (ML) has not yet coalesced on standard practices for research ethics. For ML that predicts mental illness using social media data, ambiguous ethical standards can impact peoples’ lives because of the area’s sensitivity and material con- sequences on health. Transparency of current ethics practices in research is important to document decision-making and improve research practice. We present a systematic literature review of 129 studies that predict mental illness using social media data and ML, and the ethics disclosures they make in research publications. Rates of disclosure are going up over time, but this trend is slow moving – it will take another eight years for the average paper to have coverage on 75% of studied ethics categories. Certain practices are more readily adopted, or "stickier", over time, though we found pri- oritization of data-driven disclosures rather than human-centered. These inconsistently reported ethical considerations indicate a gap between what ML ethicists believe ought to be and what actually is done. We advocate for closing this gap through increased trans- parency of practice and formal mechanisms to support disclosure.  more » « less
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Date Published:
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2023 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1311 to 1323
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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Evidence based research suggests that suicidal and unwanted behaviors can be promulgated through social contagion effects, which model, normalize, and reinforce self-harming behavior (Hilton, 2017). These harmful behaviors and social contagion effects may occur more frequently through repetitive exposure and modelling via social media, especially when such content goes “viral” (Hilton, 2017). One example of viral self-harming behavior that has generated significant media attention is the Blue Whale Challenge (BWC). The hearsay about this challenge is that individuals at all ages are persuaded to participate in self-harm and eventually kill themselves (Mukhra, Baryah, Krishan, & Kanchan, 2017). Research is needed specifically concerning BWC ethical concerns, the effects the game may have on teenagers, and potential governmental interventions. To address this gap in the literature, the current study uses qualitative and content analysis research techniques to illustrate the risk of self-harm and suicide contagion through the portrayal of BWC on YouTube and Twitter Posts. The purpose of this study is to analyze the portrayal of BWC on YouTube and Twitter in order to identify the themes that are presented on YouTube and Twitter posts that share and discuss BWC. In addition, we want to explore to what extent are YouTube videos compliant with safe and effective suicide messaging guidelines proposed by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). Method Two social media websites were used to gather the data: 60 videos and 1,112 comments from YouTube and 150 posts from Twitter. The common themes of the YouTube videos, comments on those videos, and the Twitter posts were identified using grounded, thematic content analysis on the collected data (Padgett, 2001). Three codebooks were built, one for each type of data. 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Our suggestion is parallel with similar studies conducted on the portrait of suicide in traditional media (Fekete & Macsai, 1990; Fekete & Schmidtke, 1995). Most posts on social media romanticized people who have died by following this challenge, and younger vulnerable teens may see the victims as role models, leading them to end their lives in the same way (Fekete & Schmidtke, 1995). The videos presented statistics about the number of suicides believed to be related to this challenge in a way that made suicide seem common (Cialdini, 2003). In addition, the videos presented extensive personal information about the people who have died by suicide while playing the BWC. These videos also provided detailed descriptions of the final task, including pictures of self-harm, material that may encourage vulnerable teens to consider ending their lives and provide them with methods on how to do so (Fekete & Macsai, 1990). 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