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Personal Information Revelation in Online Social Networks

Researcher: Alessandro Acquisti

Research Area: Privacy Protection

Abstract

Personal Information Revelation in Online Social Networks

Online social networks (OSN) such as Friendster, MySpace, and the Facebook have experienced exponential growth in membership in recent years. These networks offer attractive means for interaction and communication, but also raise privacy and security concerns. For example, one of the most successful networks - the Facebook - is used by 9 million and counting college students (including CMU students) who publish their dates of birth, hometowns, current residences, home and cell phone numbers, or sexual and political preferences, with little control on whom may access those data. OSN users are experimenting with new ways of networking and socializing. However, they are also revealing information that either unintended or actually malicious entity could observe - putting them at risk of current or future identity theft, online and physical stalking, or blackmailing. Our research goal is to study the dynamics of information revelation in OSN, evaluate its risks, and develop ways of mitigating such risks without compromising the value of the online community.