Why Johnny can't opt out: A usability evaluation of tools to limit online behavioral advertising

Pedro G. Leon, Blase Ur, Rebecca Balebako, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Richard Shay, Yang Wang

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

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present results of a 45-participant laboratory study investigating the usability of nine tools to limit online behavioral advertising (OBA). We interviewed participants about OBA and recorded their behavior and attitudes as they configured and used a privacy tool, such as a browser plugin that blocks requests to specific URLs, a tool that sets browser cookies indicating a user's preference to opt out of OBA, or the privacy settings built into a web browser. We found serious usability flaws in all tools we tested. Participants found many tools difficult to configure, and tools' default settings were often minimally protective. Ineffective communication, confusing interfaces, and a lack of feedback led many participants to conclude that a tool was blocking OBA when they had not properly configured it to do so. Without being familiar with many advertising companies and tracking technologies, it was difficult for participants to use the tools effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings - The 30th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2012
Pages589-598
Number of pages10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 24 2012
Event30th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2012 - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: May 5 2012May 10 2012

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Other

Other30th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2012
CountryUnited States
CityAustin, TX
Period5/5/125/10/12

Keywords

  • Cookies
  • Online behavioral advertising
  • Privacy
  • Usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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