Sky Security Seminar: Miranda Wei (University of Washington) – “(Anti-)Security Advice in Online Abuse Contexts”

Speaker: Miranda Wei
Title: (Anti-)Security Advice in Online Abuse Contexts
Location: Soda 465H

Abstract: Online abuse poses a threat to the digital safety of people globally. In recent years, the availability and capabilities of new technologies enable increasingly invasive interpersonal surveillance and control, among other online abuses. How and why do people learn to perpetuate harm, and what do experts recommend as protective actions? I first describe a case study of TikTok videos to understand what techniques people recommend using to violate others’ privacy and security. We find low-tech interface manipulations alongside abuses of GDPR transparency mechanisms, and unpack the deeply interpersonal motivations intertwined with social norms and context. Next, I present insights from interviews with hate and harassment subject matter experts to evaluate the existing body of pro-security advice. We identify highly recommended best practices as well as underlying tensions in experts’ evaluative criteria. Through the study of (anti-)security advice, this talk examines the realities of online abuse and provides directions towards a safer future for all.

Bio: Miranda Wei (she/her) is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington, where she is a member of the Security and Privacy Research Lab as well as the Tech Policy Lab. Her doctoral research focuses on the application of sociotechnical lenses to security and privacy research, particularly as relates to gender, structural (dis)empowerment, or new technologies. She examines how and why people seek security and privacy, when individualized solutions fall short, and aspires to new ways of conceptualizing safety. Her work has studied security behaviors, hate and harassment, data privacy, and social media. Previously, she earned a BA in political science from the University of Chicago and a MS in computer science from the University of Washington.