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How Does Connecting Online Activities to Advertising Inferences Impact Privacy Perceptions?

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conference contribution
posted on 2024-05-08, 11:22 authored by Florian M Farke, David G Balash, Maximilian GollaMaximilian Golla, Adam J Aviv
Data dashboards are designed to help users manage data collected about them. However, prior work showed that exposure to some dashboards, notably Google's My Activity dashboard, results in significant decreases in perceived concern and increases in perceived benefit from data collection, contrary to expectations. We theorize that this result is due to the fact that data dashboards currently do not sufficiently "connect the dots" of the data food chain, that is, by connecting data collection with the use of that data. To evaluate this, we designed a study where participants assigned advertising interest labels to their own real activities, effectively acting as a behavioral advertising engine to "connect the dots." When comparing pre- and post-labeling task responses, we find no significant difference in concern with Google's data collection practices, which indicates that participants' priors are maintained after more exposure to the data food chain (differing from prior work), suggesting that data dashboards that offer deeper perspectives of how data collection is used have potential. However, these gains are offset when participants are exposed to their true interest labels inferred by Google. Concern for data collection dropped significantly as participants viewed Google's labeling as generic compared to their own more specific labeling. This presents a possible new paradox that must be overcome when designing data dashboards, the generic paradox, which occurs when users misalign individual, generic inferences from collected data as benign compared to the totality and specificity of many generic inferences made about them.


Primary Research Area

  • Empirical and Behavioral Security

Name of Conference

Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS)


Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium



Page Range




Open Access Type

  • Hybrid


@inproceedings{Farke:Balash:Golla:Aviv:2024, title = "How Does Connecting Online Activities to Advertising Inferences Impact Privacy Perceptions?", author = "Farke, Florian M" AND "Balash, David G" AND "Golla, Maximilian" AND "Aviv, Adam J", year = 2024, month = 7, journal = "Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium", number = "2", pages = "372--390", publisher = "PoPETS", issn = "2299-0984", doi = "10.56553/popets-2024-0055" }