Analyzing and optimizing access control choice architectures in online social networks

Ron Hirschprung, Eran Toch, Hadas Schwartz-Chassidim, Tamir Mendel, Oded Maimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The way users manage access to their information and computers has a tremendous effect on the overall security and privacy of individuals and organizations. Usually, access management is conducted using a choice architecture, a behavioral economics concept that describes the way decisions are framed to users. Studies have consistently shown that the design of choice architectures, mainly the selection of default options, has a strong effect on the final decisions users make by nudging them toward certain behaviors. In this article, we propose a method for optimizing access control choice architectures in online social networks. We empirically evaluate the methodology on Facebook, the world's largest online social network, by measuring how well the default options cover the existing user choices and preferences and toward which outcome the choice architecture nudges users. The evaluation includes two parts: (a) collecting access control decisions made by 266 users of Facebook for a period of 3 months; and (b) surveying 533 participants who were asked to express their preferences regarding default options. We demonstrate how optimal defaults can be algorithmically identified from users' decisions and preferences, and we measure how existing defaults address users' preferences compared with the optimal ones. We analyze how access control defaults can better serve existing users, and we discuss how our method can be used to establish a common measuring tool when examining the effects of default options.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Access control
  • Choice architecture
  • Privacy
  • Social networks


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