Whose Policy? Privacy Challenges of Decentralized Platforms

PDF: [link]

this project is an active work-in-progress, presented at the CHI2023 Design X Policy Workshop in April 2023.
please get in touch! we are excited to chat more:

sohyeon hwang | sohyeonhwang [at] u [dot] northwestern [dot] edu
priyanka nanayakkara | priyankan [at] u [dot] northwestern [dot] edu
yan shvartzshnaider | yansh [at] lassonde [dot] yorku [dot] ca

abstract for CHI2023 workshop piece:
In this position paper, we examine 100 privacy policies on Mastodon, a decentralized social networking platform, to reflect on the relationship between policy and technology design. The resurgence of interest in decentralized platforms is closely tied to concerns of data governance and user autonomy on their large, centralized counterparts. A key advantage of decentralized platforms is the opportunity for users to tailor the privacy policies and protocols governing their information and content. Despite this, servers in our sample overwhelmingly use the same generic privacy policy text. Furthermore, ambiguities in the dominant text prompt questions about whether implementations of the same policy differ in practice, how generic policies may fail to reflect user preferences, and what challenges arise when coordinating a decentralized network of communities and their policies.


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