Social Media: How should researchers balance your privacy with public health benefit?


Social media use is now ubiquitous. Popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter command millions and even billions of users, making their online communities larger than the population of many countries. As the number of users interacting continues to grow, so does the amount of data generated. And much of that data is in the public domain – accessible to companies, researchers, and the government.  This user-generated data contain diverse types of information and associated metadata, including sensitive and private details about people’s daily lives, personal behavior, and social networks. Importantly, with advances in technology (such as artificial intelligence) these can be used to uncover valuable information about trends in human behavior, including important health issues such as substance abuse behavior. As these social and technological spheres converge, ethical concerns about the manner in which the data are collected, analyzed, and ultimately used and disseminated are at the forefront of a new digital ethical paradigm. This presentation will highlight some of these challenges from the perspective of a researcher exploring the social media risk environment for prescription drug abuse who often asks himself where the line in digital ethics resides.

Guest Speaker

Tim K. Mackey, MAS, PhD., Director, Global Health Policy Institute ( Associate Director, Joint Masters Program in Health Policy and Law & Associate Professor
UC San Diego, School of Medicine

Tim Ken Mackey is the Director of the Global Health Policy Institute (, an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Global Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and is the Associate Director for the UC San Diego MAS Program in Health Policy & Law. He is also the current Section Editor of Global Health at the journal BMC Public Health. He holds a BA in Political Science-International Relations, a Masters Degree in Health Policy & Law and also earned his PhD in Global Public Health from the joint doctoral program at UC San Diego – San Diego State University. Prof. Mackey has published over 120 articles and has been featured in journals such as Science, JAMA, Nature Biotechnology, the Lancet, Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, and BMC Medicine. His research and expertise has also been featured in major news outlets such as CNN, NPR, and POLITICO Pro. His work focuses on an array of multidisciplinary topics in domestic and global public health. He also has over ten years of professional experience  in the private sector and acting as a consultant for the World Health Organization, the US Department of State, US Department of Justice and others.


To be announced

Date & Time

Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 5-7 PM
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