Beware the social networks | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beware the social networks

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 6:54 AM

You leave fingerprints. Interesting article on privacy and the Internet. Experts can draw the tiny bits of information from multiple sources.

Collected together, the pool of information about each individual can form a distinctive “social signature,” researchers say.

The power of computers to identify people from social patterns alone was demonstrated last year in a study by the same pair of researchers that cracked Netflix’s anonymous database: Vitaly Shmatikov, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Texas, and Arvind Narayanan, now a researcher at Stanford University.

By examining correlations between various online accounts, the scientists showed that they could identify more than 30 percent of the users of both Twitter, the microblogging service, and Flickr, an online photo-sharing service, even though the accounts had been stripped of identifying information like account names and e-mail addresses.

... Even more unnerving to privacy advocates is the work of two researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. In a paper published last year, Alessandro Acquisti and Ralph Gross reported that they could accurately predict the full, nine-digit Social Security numbers for 8.5 percent of the people born in the United States between 1989 and 2003 — nearly five million individuals.

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