Tagvisor: A privacy advisor for sharing hashtags

Yang Zhang, Mathias Humbert, Tahleen Rahman, Cheng Te Li, Jun Pang, Michael Backes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Citations (Scopus)


Hashtag has emerged as a widely used concept of popular culture and campaigns, but its implications on people»s privacy have not been investigated so far. In this paper, we present the first systematic analysis of privacy issues induced by hashtags. We concentrate in particular on location, which is recognized as one of the key privacy concerns in the Internet era. By relying on a random forest model, we show that we can infer a user»s precise location from hashtags with accuracy of 70% to 76%, depending on the city. To remedy this situation, we introduce a system called Tagvisor that systematically suggests alternative hashtags if the user-selected ones constitute a threat to location privacy. Tagvisor realizes this by means of three conceptually different obfuscation techniques and a semantics-based metric for measuring the consequent utility loss. Our findings show that obfuscating as little as two hashtags already provides a near-optimal trade-off between privacy and utility in our dataset. This in particular renders Tagvisor highly time-efficient, and thus, practical in real-world settings.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Web Conference 2018 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2018
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356398
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 10
Event27th International World Wide Web, WWW 2018 - Lyon, France
Duration: 2018 Apr 232018 Apr 27

Publication series

NameThe Web Conference 2018 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2018


Conference27th International World Wide Web, WWW 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software


Dive into the research topics of 'Tagvisor: A privacy advisor for sharing hashtags'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this