Social Media in Global Perspective: Adult Participant Information Sheet


Investigators Details:

Principal Investigator: Cristian Vaccari, Loughborough University, School of Social Sciences, Brockington Building U.3.19, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, United Kingdom. Email: Telephone: +44 1509 223366

Other Investigators:

Patricia Rossini, University of Glasgow,
Michael Chan, Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Shira Dvir-Gvirsman, Tel Aviv University,
Iginio Gagliardone, University of the Witwatersrand,
Samuel Olaniran, University of the Witwatersrand,
Raquel Recuero, Universidade Federal de Pelotas,
Andrew N. Ross, Loughborough University,
Janet Steele, George Washington University,
Nicole Stremlau, University of Johannesburg and University of Oxford,
Daniel Sude, University of Tel Aviv,

We would like to invite you to take part in our study. Before you decide we would like you to understand why the research is being done and what it would involve for you. The Principal Investigator, Dr Cristian Vaccari, is happy to answer any questions you have. Talk to others about the study before making a decision if you wish.

What is the purpose of the study?
This project aims to understand how people use digital platforms to learn about and share news about public affairs, and how users make sense of content posted on social media.

Who is doing this research and why?
The project is coordinated by Dr Cristian Vaccari, Professor of Political Communication at Loughborough University, United Kingdom, and is conducted by an international team comprising scholars working at Universities in Brazil, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, South Africa, and the United States. The project has been funded by Facebook, Inc, but the company does not have any influence on the conduct of the research, the acquisition, management and analysis of the data, or the publication of results.

Are there any exclusion criteria?
We are only including participants who have an account in the digital platforms we are interested in studying in each country.

What will I be asked to do?
We will ask you to answer a few questions about yourself, your political views, and the ways in which you use different types of media to get the news. We will then show you a few posts that have been shared on social media and ask you some questions about them and the topics they convey.

Once I take part, can I change my mind?
Yes. After you have read this information and asked any questions you may have, if you are happy to participate, we will ask you to confirm your consent. You can still withdraw at any time before submission by closing the browser but after submission you cannot withdraw as your data is anonymous. You will not be asked to explain your reasons for withdrawing.

Will I be asked to attend any sessions and where will these be?
No. The study will take place entirely online.

How long will it take?
The study will take about 15 minutes to complete.

What are the possible benefits of participating?
By participating in this study, you will receive an incentive to compensate you for your time and effort. You will also contribute to innovative research that aims to understand how citizens encounter, learn about, and share the news on various types of digital platforms. This research will enable digital media companies and policymakers to adopt more effective ethical and legal frameworks to ensure that citizens are better informed online.

Are there any disadvantages or risks in participating?
We do not anticipate that you may incur any disadvantages or risks in participating. 

Data Protection Privacy Notice

Loughborough University will be using data from you in order to undertake this study and will act as the data controller for this study. This means that the University is responsible for looking after your information and using it properly. The University’s Data Protection Officer can be contacted at:

What personal information will be collected from me?
We will collect information about your gender, age, education level, and region of residence. It will not be possible for anyone to identify you based on this information.

We will also collect sensitive information about your political opinions.

Why is this personal information being collected?
We need to collect some personal data to understand whether social characteristics such as gender, age, and education play any role in how people acquire news about public affairs using different types of digital platforms. We need to collect some data on your political opinions to better understand whether these factors play any role in how people acquire news about public affairs using different social media and messaging apps. All the information we are collecting will be entirely anonymous. 

How long will my personal data be retained?
Your personal data will be retained for six years since completion of this project.

Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?
You are participating in this project on the premise of anonymity and confidentiality. We will not retain any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, identification number, location data, and online identifier. None of the information we will collect about you in the survey will allow anyone to identify you personally. 

How will the data collected from me be used?
We will use the data collected from you to conduct research that will be published in working papers and academic journal articles. The research will also be presented at international academic conferences and used to prepare briefings for digital media companies and policymakers. 

What is the legal basis for processing the data?
Personal data will be processed on the “legitimate interest” basis.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), some of the personal data which will be collected from you is categorised as “sensitive data”. The processing of this data is necessary for scientific research in accordance with safeguards. This means that this study has gone through an ethical committee to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are put in place with respect to the use of your personal data.

Will my data be shared with others?
Your data will be shared with some or all the scholars listed at the beginning of this document to develop joint academic publications.

How long will the anonymous data be retained
The data will be retained for six years since completion of this project on Loughborough University’s IT system.

Some academic journals where we will publish our study may require us to archive permanently the data to a public data repository. In that case, we will store the data you are going to provide as well as some information on how this study has been conducted. However, all the archived data will be fully anonymous so it will never be possible to identify you on that basis.

I have some more questions; who should I contact?
For questions about this project, you should contact Dr Cristian Vaccari, Loughborough University, at 

If you have any questions more generally regarding Data Protection at the University, then please do contact the Data Protection Officer on or write to The Data Protection Officer at Academic Registry, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leics, UK LE11 3TU.

What if I am not happy with how the research was conducted?
If you are not happy with how the research was conducted, please contact the Secretary of the Ethics Approvals (Human Participants) Sub-Committee, Research Office, Hazlerigg Building, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough, LE11 3TU. Tel: 01509 222423. Email:

The University also has policies relating to Research Misconduct and Whistle Blowing which are available online at .

If you have taken steps to have a concern or complaint about Loughborough University’s handling of data resolved but are still not satisfied you have a right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ico), who are the relevant regulator for data privacy and protection matters. The ico can be contacted at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF and your will find more information at