Yang Wang


I am interested in studying and designing for social use of technologies, informing public policies on technologies, and changing human behavior for their personal and public welfare, with a particular emphasis on privacy and security, social computing, and China.

In so doing, I draw from and contribute to multiple disciplines such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Social Computing, Privacy and Security, User Modeling and Personalization, and Software Engineering.

My work has primarily been focused on two areas:

(1)Design and evaluation of usable privacy and security technologies that can be deployed internationally. I build novel software systems and evaluate them empirically. Recently, I also developed a new interest in public policy issues around information technologies.
(2)Cross-cultural design and study of computer-mediated communities such as blogs, forums, games, and social networking sites.

Understanding people and their practices across cultures has been a cornerstone of my research. I employ both quantitative (e.g., statistical analysis) and qualitative (e.g., fieldwork) methods.

Internationally-Deployable, Usable Privacy and Security

Personalized services have become commonplace on today’s Internet. Prominent examples include Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Pandora. Studies have shown that personalization can bring benefits to both users and service providers. However, this win-win situation may be jeopardized by privacy issues because personalization usually entails collecting and processing data about users. My dissertation research focused on reconciling privacy and personalization. More specifically, I developed a Privacy-Enhanced Personalization (PEP) infrastructure that provides high-quality web personalization while respecting applicable privacy jurisdictions and users’ privacy preferences. I also evaluated the proposed approach empirically, both through user testing and through simulation-based performance testing. I conducted a controlled experiment to assess the effectiveness of this approach from a user’s standpoint. The results show that users value the user-tailored privacy enforcement in personalization: they have higher regard for the privacy practices of a personalized system, disclose more information about themselves to the system, and do not perceive less personalization benefit.

Cross-system personalization (CSP) technology that enables consistent personalized user experience across different applications, platforms and even devices, is gaining substantial momentum both in academia and industry. Despite the potential benefits to both service providers and end users, CSP raises thorny privacy issues. In collaboration with researchers from Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs and colleagues at the CUPS Lab, I am exploring socio-technical solutions to reconcile these privacy issues in CSP.

In addition to the above PEP work, I have also worked on a number of projects in this area including a comparative usability study of secure device pairing methods, a privacy-enhancing recommendation mechanism based on Bloom filters, and a privacy-enhancing corporate email sharing system.

Related publications

Y. Wang, A. Kobsa. Development and Evaluation of A Privacy-Enhanced Personalization Framework Submitted to journal User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction (UMUAI), 2010.

Y. Wang, A. Kobsa. Performance Evaluation of a Dynamic Privacy-Enhancing Framework for Personalized Websites In Proceedings of the 1st and 17th International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization (UMAP09), Trento, Italy, pp. 78-89, 2009.

S. A. Hendrickson, Y. Wang, A. van der Hoek, R. N. Taylor, A. Kobsa Modeling PLA Variation of Privacy-Enhancing Personalized Systems To be presented in Proceedings of the 13th International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC09), San Francisco, CA, 2009.

A. Kobsa, R. Sonawalla, G. Tsudik, E. Uzun and Y. Wang (authors in alphabetical order) Serial Hook-Ups: A Comparative Usability Study of Secure Device Pairing Methods In Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS09), Mountain View, CA, pp. 1-12, 2009.

Y. Wang, A. Kobsa. Respecting Users’ Individual Privacy Constraints in Web Personalization In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on User Modeling (UM07), Corfu, Greece, pp.157-166 , 2007.

Y. Wang, A. Kobsa., A. van der Hoek, J. White. PLA-based Runtime Dynamism in Support of Privacy-Enhanced Web Personalization In Proceedings of the 10th International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC06), Baltimore, Maryland, USA, pp. 151-162, 2006.

Y. Wang, A. Kobsa. Impacts of Privacy Laws and Regulations on Personalized Systems In Proceedings of the CHI06 Workshop on Privacy-Enhanced Personalization, Montreal, Canada, 2006.

Cross-Cultural Design and Study of Computer-Mediated Communities

I have a keen interest in studying how people perceive and interact in computer-mediated communities such as blogs, forums, games, and social networking sites. I was a core research member in the first multilingual blog study to investigate the influence of regional culture on a blogging community. I have also conducted an ethnographic study of virtual currency (VC) use in China. Based on 5 weeks of fieldwork in four cities in China, our study reveals that how VC is perceived, obtained, and spent can critically shape gamers’ behavior and experience. This study was quoted in news media such as BusinessWeek. Our follow-up study investigated the culture, policies and practices around a virutal currency, a form of incentive, in a vibrant Chinese online community called MITBBS.

More recently, I started working on several projects in the intersection of privacy and social computing. Part of my work in the Privacy Nudge Project revolves around a series of studies that investigate people's negative experiences in social media. In particular, I focused on what people regret posting on sites like Facebook. I have also been conducting a cross-cultural survey that examines social network site (SNS) users' privacy attitudes and practices in China, India, France and the US. This is collaborative work with research partners from Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs. We are also working on an Arabic version of the survey.

Related publications

Y. Wang, G. Norcie, S. Komanduri, P.G. Leon, L.F. Cranor, A. Acquisti. “I regretted the minute I pressed share”: A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook Submitted to the 7th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS2011), 2011.

Y. Wang, G. Norcie, L.F. Cranor. Who Is Concerned about What? A Study of American, Chinese and Indian Users’ Privacy Concerns on Social Networking Sites Submitted to the 4th International Conference on Trust and Trustworthy Computing, 2011.

Y. Wang, S. Mainwaring. Incentives in the Wild: Leveraging Virtual Currency to Sustain Online Community In Proceedings of the iConference 2010, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, 2010.

S. M. Lindtner, S. Mainwaring, P. Dourish, Y. Wang. Situating Productive Play: Online Gaming Practices and Guanxi in China In Proceedings of the 12th IFIP Conf. Human-Computer Interaction (INTERACT09), Uppsala, Sweden, pp. 328-341, 2009.

Y. Wang, S. Mainwaring. “Human-Currency Interaction”: Learning from Virtual Currency Use in China In Proceedings of The 26th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI08), Florence, Italy, pp. 25-28, 2008.

S. M. Lindtner, B. Nardi, Y. Wang, S. Mainwaring, J. He, W. Liang. A Hybrid Cultural Ecology: World of Warcraft in China In Proceedings of The 21th International Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW08), San Diego, USA, pp. 371-382, 2008.

N. M. Su, Y. Wang, G. Mark, T. Aieylokun, T. Nakano. A Bosom Buddy Afar Brings a Distant Land Near: Are Bloggers a Global Community? In Proceedings of The 2nd International Conference on Communities & Technologies (C&T05), Milano, Italy, pp. 171-190, 2005.

Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011