Overcoming the Privacy Paradox and Designing for

Adoption of Location-sharing Systems


Xinru Page, Ph.D.

Center for Complex Network Research

2pm – 3pm, Monday, September 22

In recent years, location-sharing systems have become widely available (e.g. Foursquare, Glympse, Google Latitude). Sharing one’s location can serve many purposes, such as safety, coordination or staying connected. Nonetheless, people have been slow to adopt location-sharing social networks, despite the prevalence of smart phones. Researchers (and the media) blame this on a host of privacy concerns including informational, psychological, interactional and physical safety concerns.

We studied users and non-adopters of location-sharing social networks to understand whether privacy concerns really impact usage. We discovered that many location-sharing privacy concerns are actually just symptoms stemming from higher-level motivations to preserve or enhance relationship boundaries. While the lower-level concerns do not predict adoption (cf. the widely recognized “privacy paradox” where behaviors do not reflect stated concerns for privacy in online technologies), these higher-level motivations do predict usage. In turn, motivation to preserve or enhance boundaries can be largely explained by a communication style trait called the FYI communication style. This communication style fully mediates the effect of predictors such as the Big-Five personality traits on location-sharing social network adoption.

In this talk, I present our validated model of location-sharing adoption. I also present findings from our latest study, which investigates how to design location-sharing systems that also appeal to people who are not FYI-style communicators.


Xinru holds a Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science with concentration in Informatics from University of California, Irvine. Her B.S. and M.S. are in Computer Science, specialization in Human-Computer Interaction, from Stanford University. She spent 5 years working in an information risk software start-up company leading their interaction design department and then as product manager. Utah’s Women Tech Council chose Xinru as a top 3 finalist for their Tech award in the Rising Star category which recognizes women “driving innovation, leading technology companies, and [who] are key contributors to the community.” At UC Irvine she was awarded the Dean’s fellowship and her research has been funded by Disney Research, Samsung and the Yahoo! Best Dissertation Fellowship Award. Her thesis is entitled “Factors that Influence Adoption and Use of Location-Sharing Social Media” and explores psychological and social factors that influence attitudes towards and use of location-sharing technology. Xinru has published her work in leading conferences in her field such as Ubicomp, CSCW, and ICWSM. She enjoys volunteering in various community programs to encourage youth in technology.

Contact: Brian Keegan, b.keegan@neu.edu, 617-373-7200