, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 753–766 | Cite as

Information and friend segregation for online social networks: a user study

  • Javed AhmedEmail author
  • Serena Villata
  • Guido Governatori
Original Article


Online social networks (OSNs) captured the attention of the masses by offering attractive means of sharing personal information and developing social relationships. People expose personal information about their lives on OSNs. This may result in undesirable consequences of users’ personal information leakage to an unwanted audience and raises privacy concerns. The issue of privacy has received a significant attention in both the research literature and the mainstream media. In this paper, we present results of an empirical study that measure users’ attitude towards interpersonal privacy concerns in OSNs. The results demonstrated a serious mismatch between privacy concerns of users and their information sharing behavior. In addition, it indicated that strangers are part of user social circles, this makes privacy protection more complicated, and introduce an insider threat, whereas all existing privacy tools allow users to manage the outsider threat. Information and friend segregation strategies are suggested on the basis of user information disclosure and interaction pattern. We conclude that sensitivity of information and frequency of interaction, both, play a vital role in information and friend segregation.


Online social networks Privacy Tie strength Audience segregation User interactions 



This paper is an extension of our work published in ECSI 2014 conference. We also acknowledge that this research project is funded by joint international doctorate in law, science, and technology which is administered by CIRSFID, University of Bologna, Italy.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Javed Ahmed
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Serena Villata
    • 3
  • Guido Governatori
    • 4
  1. 1.CIRSFID, University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.CSC, University of LuxembourgLuxembourg cityLuxembourg
  3. 3.CNRSSophia Antipolis, NiceFrance
  4. 4.Data61, CSIROSpring Hill, BrisbaneAustralia

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