Taking Data Out of Context to Hyper-Personalize Ads: Crowdworkers’ Privacy Perceptions and Decisions to Disclose Private Information

Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Julia Hanson, Matthew Kugler, Lior Strahilevitz, Blase Ur, Sophie Veys and Miranda Wei


Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 10-15, April, 2020


This study shows that consumers will continue to answer intrusive online survey questions correctly, even after being disturbed by the inclusion of their personal information in an online ad.

Policy Relevance

Current online advertising methods leave consumers with no way to express privacy concerns.

Main Points

  • This study considers how users respond when they encounter an ad that conspicuously misuses their personal information, to discover whether users will then refuse to share further information.
  • The study involved 25 participants present in person, and 280 online participants.
  • In the first stage, participants provided personal information; a week later, participants were sent either a text message or an online banner ad.
    • Half the ads contained the participants’ name, partner’s name, location, or preferred cuisine.
    • The other half received a generic ad.
  • Participants were surprised and alarmed by the personalized ad, but still were willing to answer invasive survey questions accurately; participants might have become resigned to the loss of privacy and feel that concealment is futile.
  • The framework created by advertising companies and technologies upsets consumers, but leaves them frustrated and with no way of expressing their concerns.

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