Social media as a resource for understanding security experiences: A qualitative analysis of #password tweets

Paul Dunphy, Vasilis Vlachokyriakos, Anja Thieme, James Nicholson, John McCarthy, Patrick Olivier

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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As security technologies become more embedded into people’s everyday lives, it becomes more challenging for researchers to understand the contexts in which those technologies are situated. The need to develop research methods that provide a lens on personal experiences has driven much recent work in human-computer interaction, but has so far received little focus in usable security. In this paper we explore the potential of the micro blogging site Twitter to provide experience-centered insights into security practices. Taking the topic of passwords as an example, we collected tweets with the goal to capture personal narratives of password use situated in its context. We performed a qualitative content analysis on the tweets and uncovered: how tweets contained critique and frustration about existing password practices and workarounds; how people socially shared and revoked their passwords as a deliberate act in exploring and defining their relationships with others; practices of playfully bypassing passwords mechanisms and how passwords are appropriated in portrayals of self. These findings begin to evidence the extent to which passwords increasingly serve social functions that are more complex than have been documented in previous research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2015
EventSymposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2015 - Ottawa, Canada
Duration: 6 Jul 20157 Jul 2015


ConferenceSymposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2015
Abbreviated titleSOUPS 2015


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