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Effective privacy protection in social networks

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Posted June 6, 2013
User-friendliness versus privacy protection: SIT is investigating ways of developing user-friendly software tools for social networks. Credit: Fraunhofer

User-friendliness versus privacy protection: SIT is investigating ways of developing user-friendly software tools for social networks. Credit: Fraunhofer

Researchers are working on new methods to help them gain a better understanding of the usage habits of participants in social networks. The results will be incorporated in the development of userfriendly tools for privacy protection.

In principle, social networks such as Facebook are a good things: users can communicate with other people around the globe, contacting their closest friends in all places and at all times to share experiences with them in real time. Yet many users have problems publishing posts and photos in a way that will protect them from the undesirable side effects to their online identities. To support users’ desire for “interactional privacy” – protection of the user’s private sphere in online dealings with other people – suggested improvements have already been made for networks such as Facebook. In a practical setting, however, these improved means are either too rigid to do justice to users’ multifaceted habits, or they are very complicated to manage because they try to solve a host of different problems all at the same time.

“If we want to develop truly user-friendly tools, we have to understand users better,” according to Andreas Poller of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt. Together with researchers at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, for five years, now, he has been working on a project, “Software Design for Interactional Privacy within Online Social Networks,” that will create new methods of collecting and evaluating data on usage habits in online social networks (https://dipo.sit.fraunhofer.de/). In contrast to previous studies, researchers not only want to identify the weak spots in privacy management but also want their work to support the design of more effective privacy tools.

Read more at: Phys.org

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