Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 45–51 | Cite as

Blurred Lines: Ethical Implications of Social Media for Behavior Analysts

  • Patrick N. O’LearyEmail author
  • Megan M. Miller
  • Melissa L. Olive
  • Amanda N. Kelly
Discussion and Review Paper


Social networking has a long list of advantages: it enables access to a large group of people that would otherwise not be geographically convenient or possible to connect with; it reaches several different generations, particularly younger ones, which are not typically involved in discussion of current events; and these sites allow a cost effective, immediate, and interactive way to engage with others. With the vast number of individuals who use social media sites as a way to connect with others, it may not be possible to completely abstain from discussions and interactions on social media that pertain to our professional practice. This is all the more reason that behavior analysts attend to the contingencies specific to these tools. This paper discusses potential ethical situations that may arise and offers a review of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) guidelines pertaining to social networking, as well as provides suggestions for avoiding or resolving potential violations relating to online social behavior.


Social networking Ethics Online media Internet behavior 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Carla Schmidt for her helpful feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript.


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) does not sponsor, approve, or endorse the information identified herein.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick N. O’Leary
    • 1
    Email author
  • Megan M. Miller
    • 2
  • Melissa L. Olive
    • 3
  • Amanda N. Kelly
    • 4
  1. 1.Area Cooperative Educational ServicesNorth HavenUSA
  2. 2.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Applied Behavioral Strategies LLCNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Keiki Educational Consultants, IncWaialuaUSA

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