We have a new paper accepted to ACM Intelligent Systems and Technology (TIST): “Analyzing and Optimizing Access Control Choice Architectures in Online Social Networks”. The paper’s writing was led by Ron Hirschprung, with two other group members, Hadas Schwartz-Chassidim and Tamir Mendel, and with Prof. Oded Maimon from our department.

The paper describes a methodology to check how representative and fair are a set of default options used in a social networking website. We define, implement and evaluate our method with Facebook and 266 users.

Here is the abstract:

The way users manage access to their information and computers has a tremendous effect on the overall security and privacy of individuals and organizations. Usually, access management is conducted using a choice architecture, a behavioral economics concept that describes the way decisions are framed to users. Studies have consistently shown that the design of choice architectures, mainly the selection of default options, has a strong effect on the final decisions users make by nudging them toward certain behaviors. In this paper, we propose a method for optimizing access control choice architectures in online social networks. We empirically evaluate the methodology on Facebook, the world’s largest online social network, by measuring how well the default options cover the existing user choices and preferences and toward which outcome the choice architecture nudges users. The evaluation includes two parts: a) collecting access control decisions made by 266 users of Facebook for a period of 3 months; and b) surveying 533 participants who were asked to express their preferences regarding default options. We demonstrate how optimal defaults can be algorithmically identified from users’ decisions and preferences, and we measure how existing defaults address users’ preferences compared with the optimal ones. We analyze how access control defaults can better serve existing users, and we discuss how our method can be used to establish a common measuring tool when examining the effects of default options.