This article is a reflexive analysis of two overlapping research methods, social media ethnography and “scroll-back interviews”, that were employed to study how young first- and second-generation African migrants in Australia use social media. This article seeks to contribute to the expanding body of research on digital methods by highlighting the rich data that these methods produced, as well as discussing the limitations and ethical challenges that arose. In particular, we consider participant and researcher privacy online, the opportunities and consequences of digital traces and the unanticipated impacts to the digital researcher who is perpetually immersed “in the field”. These methods revealed a complex, contested and highly mediated set of experiences, and we conclude this paper by suggesting that this type of research requires ongoing ethical reflection due to the ambiguous and often “messy” situations that may arise when undertaking digital ethnographic work. We anticipate that this paper may assist other researchers to test and adapt our approach across a diverse range of topics.
- African youth
- social media ethnography