Event Information:

  • Fri

    [Talk] Jessica Vitak(UMD) & D. Yvette Wohn(NJIT)

    2:00 pmErhlicher Room(NQ 3100), 105 S. State St. Ann Arbor


    We are very excited to announce two back-to-back talks by Jessica Vitak & D. Yvette Wohn, co-sponsored by MISC and the Social Media Research Lab (SMRL)! On Friday, from 2 - 3 PM, Jessica Vitak and D. Yvette Wohn will each give a 20-minute talk, with 20 minutes for Q&A at the end.


    RSVP here for the talks:

    Jessica Vitak:

    Title: Where's my data going? Privacy, security, and ethical challenges in the era of ubiquitous data collection

    Abstract: Over the past decade, the Internet of Things has pushed its way into our workplaces and homes by making regular products "smarter." We now wear watches to track our steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns. Our thermostats learn over time about our heating and cooling preferences. Our refrigerator can detect when we run out of milk. And our intelligent personal assistants passively listen for a voice cue ("Alexa!") to respond to our questions and commands. In many ways, we are living in the science fiction future we dreamed of decades ago. On the other hand, the influx of devices meant to collect constant data about your movement and location, health, and purchasing patterns raise significant questions about the privacy and security of that data. In this talk, I'll share early results from two NSF grants, one looking at privacy and surveillance on smartphones and intelligent personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, and the other collaborative project on pervasive data ethics. I'll also raise questions for researchers working in this space to consider as they work with large, public datasets to ensure they are taking adequate steps to protect the data and the users behind that data.

    Bio: Jessica Vitak (PhD, Michigan State University) is an assistant professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland and associate director of the Human Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL). Her research evaluates the benefits and drawbacks of mediated communication technologies by focusing on the role that social and technical affordances shape interactions online. Specifically, she focuses on questions around data privacy and security, as well as pervasive data ethics, around the generation, collection, and analysis of large-scale user data. She is currently PI or Co-PI on three federal grants on these topics (NSF-SES-1640640, NSF-IIS-1704369, and IMLS-LG-81-16-0154-16). For more information, see

    D. Yvette Wohn:

    Title: The Bot Stops Here: Understanding Social Support Provision in Social Media

    Abstract: A main characteristic of current social systems is that they are designed to captivate the attention of users but are rarely designed to give support to those that need it. How much are current systems designed for optimal emotional, instrumental, and financial support provision? In this talk, I will discuss two projects that investigate how sociotechnical factors can facilitate social support and counter online harassment. In both projects, algorithms played a prominent role, but were never enough on their own—the most effective bots were those that made a human touch scalable.

    Bio: D. Yvette Wohn (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an assistant professor of informatics at New Jersey Institute of Technology and director of the Social Interaction Lab (, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and Yahoo among others. Her research focuses on understanding and designing social systems for well-being, as well as the darker side of technology usage such as addiction and online harassment.