Social media is increasingly creating the contours of many Americans’ daily lives as a medium that is simultaneously intimate and powerfully public. Beyond providing tools to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues, social media platforms have become critical sources of news around the world and a significant medium for self-expression. The ability to amplify one’s joy, fear, anger and hope to hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of “friends” with a click of a button has altered how we think about the distribution of information and social networks. In this age of mounting expectation over the possibilities of ‘big data,” social media sites are focal points for accessing large amounts of detailed, personal information cheaply and quickly. However, there is little guidance on how to address questions on the ethics of engaging these diverse portals and their users in research. Bioethics can play a lead role by identifying what is at stake when creating these new research relationships.