Usage and consequences of privacy settings in microblogs

Elena Daehnhardt, Nick K. Taylor, Yanguo Jing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)


Twitter facilitates borderless communication, informing us about real-life events and news. To address privacy needs, Twitter provides various security settings. However, users with protected profiles are limited to their friendship circles and thus might have less visibility from outside of their networks. Previous research on privacy reveals information leakage and security threats in social networks despite of privacy protection enabled. In this context, could protecting microblogging content be counterproductive for individual users? Would microbloggers use Twitter more effectively when opening their content for everyone rather than protecting their profiles? Are user profile protection features necessary? We wanted to address this controversy by studying how microbloggers exploit privacy and geo-location setting controls. We followed a set of user profiles during half of year and compared their usage of Twitter features including status updates, favorites, being listed, adding friends and follower contacts. Our findings revealed that protecting user accounts is not always detrimental to exploiting the main microblogging features. Additionally, we found that users across geographic regions have different privacy preferences. Our results enable us to get insights into privacy issues in microblogs, underlining the need of respecting user privacy in microblogs. We suggest to further research user privacy controls usage in order to understand user goals and motivations for sharing and disclosing their microblogging data online with the focus on user cultural origins.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2015 IEEE International Conference on Computer and Information Technology; Ubiquitous Computing and Communications; Dependable, Autonomic and Secure Computing; Pervasive Intelligence and Computing
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event15th IEEE International Conference on Computer and Information Technology - Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Oct 201528 Oct 2015

Academic conference

Academic conference15th IEEE International Conference on Computer and Information Technology
Abbreviated titleCIT 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Geo-location usage
  • Microblogging behavior
  • Privacy online
  • Twitter microblogs
  • User content protection


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