Evolution of privacy loss in wikipedia

Marian Andrei Rizoiu*, Lexing Xie, Tiberio Caetano, Manuel Cebrian

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The cumulative effect of collective online participation has an important and adverse impact on individual privacy. As an online system evolves over time, new digital traces of individual behavior may uncover previously hidden statistical links between an individual's past actions and her private traits. To quantify this effect, we analyze the evolution of individual privacy loss by studying the edit history of Wikipedia over 13 years, including more than 117,523 different users performing 188,805,088 edits. We trace each Wikipedia's contributor using apparently harmless features, such as the number of edits performed on predefined broad categories in a given time period (e.g. Mathematics, Culture or Nature). We show that even at this unspecific level of behavior description, it is possible to use off-the-shelf machine learning algorithms to uncover usually undisclosed personal traits, such as gender, religion or education. We provide empirical evidence that the prediction accuracy for almost all private traits consistently improves over time. Surprisingly, the prediction performance for users who stopped editing after a given time still improves. The activities performed by new users seem to have contributed more to this effect than additional activities from existing (but still active) users. Insights from this work should help users, system designers, and policy makers understand and make long-term design choices in online content creation systems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWSDM 2016 - Proceedings of the 9th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
    Pages215-224
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Electronic)9781450337168
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2016
    Event9th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, WSDM 2016 - San Francisco, United States
    Duration: 22 Feb 201625 Feb 2016

    Publication series

    NameWSDM 2016 - Proceedings of the 9th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining

    Conference

    Conference9th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, WSDM 2016
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySan Francisco
    Period22/02/1625/02/16

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