Building a Privacy-Preserving Social Networking Platform from a Technological and Sociological Perspective

Wei Jiang (PI) and Dan Lin (Co-PI)



Social networks provide many benefits, but also give rise to serious concerns regarding privacy. Indeed, since privacy protections are not intrinsically incorporated into the underlying technological framework, user data is still accessible to the social network and is open to misuse. While there have been efforts to incorporate privacy into social networks, existing solutions are not sufficiently lightweight, transparent, and functional, and therefore have achieved only limited adoption. This project develops a privacy-preserving social network (Trusted-Space) where user data are protected from the social network itself, other social network users, and advertisers. The project synthesizes solutions from a technological and sociological perspective to ensure that all of the required functionalities for both users and advertisers to participate effectively in the social network are available. The project develops compact data representations and usability driven functionalities that are privacy-preserving. The project also evaluates people’s expectations about the implications of their own actions on their privacy and the future behavior of the algorithms, towards creating a simple, transparent, and predictable environment to facilitate widespread adoption.