The following are key points summarized from a recently published checklist for IRB evaluation of social medial recruitment proposals from investigators. See the referenced article for the full context and complete list.1

  • Seek to normalize social media recruitment to the extent possible, drawing analogies to traditional recruitment efforts.
  • Ensure that the proposed online recruitment strategy complies with all applicable federal and state laws.
  • Check that the investigator has certified compliance (or lack of noncompliance) between recruitment techniques and policies/terms of use of relevant websites.
  • Ensure that proposed social media recruitment strategies respect all relevant ethical norms, including accurately describing the trial and assurances that recruitment will not involve methods that could embarrass or stigmatize potential participants.
  • Ensure that investigators will obtain consent from current participants before they approach members of their online network for recruitment via their network or invite individuals to approach members of their network on research team’s behalf.
  • Ensure that a communication plan is in place for how the research team will handle online communication from enrolled participants that threatens the integrity of study.


  1. Gelinas L, Pierce R, Winkler S, et al. Using Social Media as a Research Recruitment Tool: Ethical Issues and Recommendations. Am J Bioeth 2017;17(3):3-14.