sesa 11(1): e4

Research Article

A framework for usable end-user privacy control in social software systems

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  • @ARTICLE{10.4108/trans.sesa.2011.e4,
        author={Maryam Najafian Razavi and Denis Gillet},
        title={A framework for usable end-user privacy control in social software systems},
        journal={EAI Endorsed Transactions on Security and Safety},
        keywords={grounded theory, people tagging, privacy, social software, usability, Web 2.0},
  • Maryam Najafian Razavi
    Denis Gillet
    Year: 2011
    A framework for usable end-user privacy control in social software systems
    DOI: 10.4108/trans.sesa.2011.e4
Maryam Najafian Razavi1,*, Denis Gillet1
  • 1: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
*Contact email:


Recent studies have shown that many users struggle to properly manage selective sharing of the diverse information artefacts they deposit in social software tools. Most tools define privacy based on the ‘network of friends’ model, in which all ‘friends’ are created equal and all relationships are reciprocal. This model fails to support the privacy expectations that non-technical users bring from their real-life experiences, such as enabling different degrees of intimacy within one’s network and providing flexible, natural means of managing the volatile social relationships that social software systems confront. Furthermore, the model suffers from lack of empirical grounding and systematic evaluation. This paper presents a framework for building privacy management mechanisms for social software systems that is intuitive and easy to use for the average, non-technical user population of these systems. The framework is based on a grounded theory study of users’ information sharing behaviour in a social software tool. Results inform the design of OpnTag, a social software prototype that facilitates personal and social information management and sharing. Preliminary empirical data suggest that our proposed privacy framework is flexible enough to meet users’ varying information sharing needs in different contexts while maintaining adequate support for usability.