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Seminar:  Privacy Nudges and Self-Censorship on Social Media

Date:October 7, 2013 
Talk Title:Privacy Nudges and Self-Censorship on Social Media
Speaker:Lorrie Cranor
Time & Location:12:00pm - 1:00pm
CIC Building, Pittsburgh


Anecdotal evidence and scholarly research have shown that a significant portion of Internet users experience regrets over their social network disclosures. To help individuals avoid regrettable disclosures, we employed lessons from behavioral decision research and soft paternalism to design mechanisms that "nudge" users to consider the content and context of their online disclosures more carefully. We developed three privacy nudges for Facebook, focusing on visual cues about the audience, time delays, and feedback mechanisms. I will talk about how our research on regrettable disclosures on social networks informed our Facebook privacy nudge designs and present results of our field trials. While nudges are designed to encourage self-censorship, many social network users already practice self-censorship regularly. I will also discuss a study in which we explored self-censorship on Facebook by asking participants to report all content that they thought about sharing but decided not to share on Facebook for a week. Our results shed light on the types of content users tend to self-censor as well as the difficulties Facebook users have in precisely targeting content to a desired audience.

Speaker Bio

Lorrie Faith Cranor is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University where she is director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory (CUPS) and co-director of the MSIT-Privacy Engineering masters program.

She is also Chief Scientist of Wombat Security Technologies, Inc. She has authored over 100 research papers on online privacy, usable security, and other topics. She has played a key role in building the usable privacy and security research community, having co-edited the seminal book Security and Usability (O'Reilly 2005) and founded the Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS). She also chaired the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) Specification Working Group at the W3C and authored the book Web Privacy with P3P (O'Reilly 2002). She has served on a number of boards, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation Board of Directors, and on the editorial boards of several journals. She was previously a researcher at AT&T-Labs Research and taught in the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Lorrie has spent the 2012-13 academic year on sabbatical as a fellow in the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at CMU, working on fiber arts projects that combine her interests in privacy and security, quilting, computers, and technology.

For more information, please visit Dr. Cranor's website at


B.S. (Engineering and Public Policy) 1992, Washington University in St. Louis
M.S. (Technology and Human Affairs) 1993, Washington University in St. Louis
M.S. (Computer Science) 1996, Washington University in St. Louis
D.Sc. (Engineering and Policy) 1996, Washington University in St. Louis