News: Research in the News

Article on the failure of Differential Privacy reaches 1000 views

January 31, 2020

On January 9, 2020, MPI-SWS faculty member Paul Francis published the article Dear Differential Privacy: Put Up or Shut Up, on Medium. The article, which has now reached 1000 views, describes the failure of Differential Privacy as the basis for data protection in the Facebook / Social Sciences One project.

The Facebook / Social Sciences One project is an attempt to release Facebook data on URL sharing to researchers so as to better understand the role of Facebook in influencing elections.

On January 9, 2020, MPI-SWS faculty member Paul Francis published the article Dear Differential Privacy: Put Up or Shut Up, on Medium. The article, which has now reached 1000 views, describes the failure of Differential Privacy as the basis for data protection in the Facebook / Social Sciences One project.

The Facebook / Social Sciences One project is an attempt to release Facebook data on URL sharing to researchers so as to better understand the role of Facebook in influencing elections. The project raised 11 million dollars from private funders, and research grants were awarded to twelve research teams around the world. Facebook decided to use Differential Privacy as the means of anonymizing the data. After one year, however, Facebook had not supplied the data. When the funders threatened to pull the funding, Facebook did release a dataset, but the quality of the data was so poor that the proposed research could not be done.

Francis' article describes how and why the data release failed, discusses the shortcomings of Differential Privacy, and calls on the privacy research community to expand the scope of what passes for valid data anonymity research.

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Paul Francis featured in CNIL interview

June 19, 2018

Paul Francis was featured in an interview by CNIL, the French national data protection authority. The interview discusses the innovative way in which MPI-SWS is tackling the data anonymity problem. The interview follows Paul's visit to CNIL in May 2018, where he presented the first-ever bounty program for anonymity. The bounty program, designed by MPI-SWS and implemented by the startup Aircloak, is one of the innovative ways in which MPI-SWS develops practical data anonymity techniques.

Paul Francis was featured in an interview by CNIL, the French national data protection authority. The interview discusses the innovative way in which MPI-SWS is tackling the data anonymity problem. The interview follows Paul's visit to CNIL in May 2018, where he presented the first-ever bounty program for anonymity. The bounty program, designed by MPI-SWS and implemented by the startup Aircloak, is one of the innovative ways in which MPI-SWS develops practical data anonymity techniques.

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MPI-SWS research in the New York Times

September 1, 2014

MPI-SWS faculty Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil's work on linguistic change was mentioned in The New York Times. This is joint work with Robert West, Dan Jurafsky, Jure Leskovec, Christopher Potts.

MPI-SWS research in the news

May 1, 2014

MPI-SWS faculty member Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil has had his work on how to ask for a favor featured on various media outlets including the Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Slate's Future Tense blog, ABC News and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Links to all the articles can be found here. This is joint work with Tim Althoff and Dan Jurafsky.

Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil quoted by ABC News

August 1, 2013

MPI-SWS faculty member Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil was quoted in a recent ABC News article about social bias effects in social media.

MPI-SWS research in the news

A recent WWW 2012 paper by Krishna Gummadi, Bimal Viswanath, and their coauthors was covered by GigaOM, a popular technology news blog, in an article titled Who's to blame for Twitter spam? Obama, Gaga, and you.

Steven le Blond's work on security flaws in Skype and other peer-to-peer applications has been receiving global media attention: WSJ, Le Monde (French), die Zeit (German),

A recent WWW 2012 paper by Krishna Gummadi, Bimal Viswanath, and their coauthors was covered by GigaOM, a popular technology news blog, in an article titled Who's to blame for Twitter spam? Obama, Gaga, and you.

Steven le Blond's work on security flaws in Skype and other peer-to-peer applications has been receiving global media attention: WSJ, Le Monde (French), die Zeit (German), Daily Mail, New Scientist, Slashdot, Wired, and the New Scientist "One Percent" blog.

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MPI-SWS study exposing Facebook privacy leak attracts global media attention

A study by MPI-SWS researchers Saikat Guha (now at Microsoft Research), Bin Cheng, and Paul Francis has been highlighted on CNN, NPR, The Washington Post, Fox News, and other major media outlets.

The study, which will be presented at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC) in November, looks at the targeting behavior of Google and Facebook. While the goal of the study was to understand targeting in general,

A study by MPI-SWS researchers Saikat Guha (now at Microsoft Research), Bin Cheng, and Paul Francis has been highlighted on CNN, NPR, The Washington Post, Fox News, and other major media outlets.

The study, which will be presented at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC) in November, looks at the targeting behavior of Google and Facebook. While the goal of the study was to understand targeting in general, the researchers discovered that gay Facebook users can unknowingly reveal to advertisers that they are gay simply by clicking on an ad targeted to gay men. The ads appear innocuous in that they make no mention of targeting gay users (for instance, an ad for a nursing degree). A user's sexual orientation can be leaked even if the user made his sexual orientation private using Facebook's privacy settings.

This study was done as part of a broader research project to design techniques for making advertising more private.

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