Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 697–711 | Cite as

A comparative study of location-sharing privacy preferences in the United States and China

  • Jialiu Lin
  • Michael Benisch
  • Norman Sadeh
  • Jianwei Niu
  • Jason Hong
  • Banghui Lu
  • Shaohui Guo
Original Article


While prior studies have provided us with an initial understanding of people’s location-sharing privacy preferences, they have been limited to Western countries and have not investigated the impact of the granularity of location disclosures on people’s privacy preferences. We report findings of a 3-week comparative study collecting location traces and location-sharing preferences from two comparable groups in the United States and China. Results of the study shed further light on the complexity of people’s location-sharing privacy preferences and key attributes influencing willingness to disclose locations to others and to advertisers. While our findings reveal many similarities between US and Chinese participants, they also show interesting differences, such as differences in willingness to share location at “home” and at “work” and differences in the granularity of disclosures people feel comfortable with. We conclude with a discussion of implications for the design of location-sharing applications and location-based advertising.


Location sharing Cross-cultural comparison Location privacy 



This work has been supported by NSF grants CNS-0627513, CNS-0905562, CNS 10-1012763, and by ARO research grant DAAD19-02-1-0389 to Carnegie Mellon University’s Cylab. Additional support has been provided by the CMU/Portugal Information and Communication Technologies Institute, Nokia, France Telecom, Google, the National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61170296), the State Key Laboratory of Software Development Environment Grant BUAA SKLSDE-2012ZX-17, and the New Century Excellent Talents in University Grant NECT-09-0028. The authors would also like to thank Bin Dai and Yazhi Liu for helping conduct our study in China.


  1. 1.
    Barkhuus L, Brown B, Bell M, Hall M, Sherwood S, Chalmers M (2008) From Awareness to repartee: sharing location within social groups. Paper presented at the CHIGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Benisch M, Kelley P, Sadeh N, Cranor L (2010) Capturing location-privacy preferences: quantifying accuracy and user-burden tradeoffs. Pers Ubiquit Comput. doi: 10.1007/s00779-010-0346-0 MATHGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cornwell J, Fette I, Hsieh G, Prabaker M, Rao J, Tang K, Vaniea K, Bauer L, Cranor L, Hong J, McLaren B, Reiter M, Sadeh N (2007) User-controllable security and privacy for pervasive computing. Paper presented at the 8th IEEE workshop on mobile computing systems and applicationsGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hong JI, Landay JA (2004) An architecture for privacy-sensitive ubiquitous computing. Paper presented at the MobiSys, BostonGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Iachello G, Smith I, Consolvo S, Abowd G, Hughes J, Howard J, Potter F, Scott J, Sohn T, Hightower J, LaMarca A (2005) Control, deception, and communication: evaluating the deployment of a location-enhanced messaging service. Paper presented at the UbiCompGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lederer S, Mankoff J, Dey AK (2003) Who want to know what when? Privacy preference determinants in ubiquitous computing. Paper presented at the CHIGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tsai JY, Kelley P, Drielsma P, Cranor L, Hong J, Sadeh N (2009) Who’s viewed you? The impact of feedback in a mobile location sharing system. Paper presented at the CHIGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sadeh N, Hong J, Cranor L, Fette I, Kelly P, Prabaker M, Rao J (2009) Understanding and capturing people’s privacy policies in a mobile social networking application. Pers Ubiquit Comput 13(6):401–412. doi: 10.1007/s00779-008-0214-3
  9. 9.
    Wang K (2011) China smartphone shipments rise. Accessed 21 Nov 2011
  10. 10.
    Wood N (2011) China’s smartphone shipments to triple by 2013. Accessed Nov 21 2011
  11. 11.
    Chen G-M (1995) Differences in self-disclosure patterns among Americans Versus Chinese: a comparative study. J Cross Cult Psychol 26(1):84–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Asai A, Barnlund DC (1998) Boundaries of the unconscious, private, and public self in Japanese and Americans: a cross-cultural comparison. Int J Intercult Relat 22(4):431–452. doi: 10.1016/s0147-1767(98)00017-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sadeh N, Gandon F, Kwon OB (2005) Ambient intelligence: the mycampus experience. CMU-ISRI-05-123. Carnege Mellon UnivGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Barkhuus L, Dey A (2003) Location-based services for mobile telephony: a study of users’ privacy concerns. Paper presented at the INTERACTGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Consolvo S, Smith IE, Matthews T, LaMarca A, Tabert J, Powledge P (2005) Location disclosure to social relations: why, when, & what people want to share. Paper presented at the SIGCHIGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Locaccino (2011) A user-controllable location-sharing tool. Accessed 21 Nov 2011
  17. 17.
    Tsai JY, Kelly PG, Cranor LF, Sadeh N (2009) Location-sharing technologies: privacy risks and controls. In: TPRCGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ravichandran R, Benisch M, Kelley PG, Sadeh N (2009) Capturing social networking privacy preferences. Paper presented at PETS, Seattle, WAGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cranshaw J, Mugan J, Sadeh N (2011) User-controllable learning of location privacy policies with gaussian mixture models. In: Proceeding of AAAI conference on artificial intelligence, San Francisco, California, USAGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Toch E, Cranshaw J, Drielsma PH, Tsai JY, Kelley PG, Springfield J, Cranor L, Hong J, Sadeh N (2010) Empirical models of privacy in location sharing. Paper presented at the UbiComp, Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wang H-C, Fussell SF, Setlock LD (2009) Cultural difference and adaptation of communication styles in computer-mediated group brainstorming. In: CHI, Boston, MA. ACM, 1518806, pp 669–678. doi: 10.1145/1518701.1518806
  22. 22.
    Lin J, Xiang G, Hong JI, Sadeh N (2010) Modeling people’s place naming preferences in location sharing. Paper presented at the UbiComp, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hofstede G (1984) Cultural dimensions in management and planning. Asia Pac J Manag. doi: 10.1007/bf01733682 Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hofstde G, McCrae RR (2004) Personality and culture revisited: linking traits and dimensions of culture. Cross Cult Res 38:52–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ardichvili A, Maurer M, Li W, Wentling T, Stuedemann R (2006) Cultural influences on knowledge sharing through online communities of practice. J Knowl Manag 10(1):94–107. doi: citeulike-article-id:512308 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Schug J, Yuki M, Maddux W (2010) Relational mobility explains between- and within-culture differences in self-disclosure to close friends. Psychol Sci 21(10):1471–1478Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Chapman CN, Lahav M (2008) International ethnographic observation of social networking sites. Paper presented at the CHI, FlorenceGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    He Y, Zhao C, Hinds P (2010) Understanding information sharing from a cross-cultural perspective. Paper presented at the CHI, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Bellman S, Johnson EJ, Kobrin SJ, Lohse GL (2004) International differences in information privacy concerns: a global survey of consumers. Inform Soc Int J 20(5):313–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Cho H, Rivera-Sanchez M, Lim SS (2009) A multinational study on online privacy: global concerns and local responses. New Media Soc 11(3):395–416Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Wang Y, Cranor L (2011) Who is concerned about what? A study of American, Chinese and Indian users’ privacy concerns on social network sites. In: Proceedings of TRUST, pp 146–153Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Skyhook API. Accessed 21 Nov 2011
  33. 33.
    Kahneman D, Krueger AB, Schkade DA, Schwarz N, Stone AA (2004) A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: the day reconstruction method. Science 306(5702):1776–1780. doi: 10.1126/science.1103572 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Hofstede cultural dimensions of China. Accessed 21 Nov 2011
  35. 35.
    Hofstede cultural dimensions of United States. Accessed 21 Nov 2011
  36. 36.
    Valkenburg PM, Sumter SR, Peter J (2010) Gender differences in online and offline self-disclosure in pre-adolescence and adolescence. Br J Dev Psychol. doi: 10.1348/2044-835x.002001 MATHGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tschann JM (1988) Self-disclosure in adult friendship: gender and marital status differences. J Soc Pers Relat 5(1):65–81. doi: 10.1177/0265407588051004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kolek EA, Saunders D (2008) Online disclosure: an empirical examination of undergraduate facebook profiles. NASPA J 45(1):1–25Google Scholar
  39. 39.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jialiu Lin
    • 1
  • Michael Benisch
    • 1
  • Norman Sadeh
    • 1
  • Jianwei Niu
    • 2
  • Jason Hong
    • 1
  • Banghui Lu
    • 2
  • Shaohui Guo
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.School of Computer Science and EngineeringBeihang UniversityBeihangChina

Personalised recommendations