Analysing Privacy Leakage of Life Events on Twitter


People share a wide variety of information on Twitter, including the events in their lives, without understanding the size of their audience. While some of these events can be considered harmless such as getting a new pet, some of them can be sensitive such as gender-transition experiences. Every interaction increases the visibility of the tweets and even if the original tweet is protected or deleted, public replies to it will stay in the platform. These replies might signal the events in the original tweet which cannot be managed by the event subject. In this paper, we aim to understand the scope of life event disclosures for those with both public and protected (private) accounts. We collected 635k tweets with the phrase “happy for you” over four months. We found that roughly 10% of the tweets collected were celebrating a mentioned user’s life event, ranging from marriage to surgery recovery. 8% of these tweets were directed at protected accounts. The majority of mentioned users also interacted with these tweets by liking, retweeting, or replying.

In Proceedings of the 12th ACM Conference on Web Science