Pamela Wisniewski

Category : Professional

Tenure-Track Job Search

No Rest for the Weary

This has been an especially busy semester for me — adjusting to life with a new baby, finishing up my post doctoral research, and interviewing for tenure-track faculty positions.  So far, I have been invited to seven on-site interviews and have had many other Skype/phone interviews.  I am thankful that my portfolio and accomplishments have generated so much interest at a wide variety of different, quality universities. And, I am excited to figure out in the next couple of months which of these universities will be where I start my long-term academic career.

While most of the departments request that I give a research job talk, a few have also requested that I give a teaching demonstration. Recently, I Googled myself, and I found a student blog post reviewing my teaching demo of introductory JavaScript. I won’t post a link because it links to the university’s website, and I don’t want to be too invasive to the student’s privacy, but here is an excerpt:

“I will go so far as to say this seminar was the best one I have attended (and I’ve attended nearly all of them). Her presentation and style was fantastic; she was enthusiastic, funny, and presented with great clarity.” -Ryan ’15


He even posted some pictures of my talk. Overall, it was great to get some positive feedback, as the process of interviewing can get pretty grueling at times.

In the midst of all of this, I would like to take a moment to thank my bosses at Penn State — Heng Xu, Jack Carroll, and Mary Beth Rosson.  Heng initally hired me for this position, and without her giving me this opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Jack and Mary Beth have also been great supervisors and mentors, supporting me through advisement, friendship, and job references. And, I also don’t want to forget Heather Lipford and David Wilson, my dissertation advisors, who are still big advocates for me in my job search. My cup is brimming over with gratitude as I prepare myself for the new adventures ahead.

CSCW 2015 Best Paper Honorable Mention

Best of CSCW

I just received notification yesterday that our paper entitled, “’Preventative’ vs. ‘Reactive:’ How Parental Mediation Influences Teens’ Social Media Privacy Behaviors,” received a best paper honorable mention at CSCW 2015. It is one of the three papers I co-authored and will be presenting in Vancouver in March. We performed a secondary analysis of a Pew Research data set to better understand how different parental mediation strategies (Active Mediation versus Direct Intervention) influenced teens’ online risk-taking and risk-coping behaviors on Facebook.  I would like to congratulate my co-authors Haiyan Jia, Heng Xu, Mary Beth Rosson, and Jack Carroll on our job well done!

CHI 2015 Paper Accepted!

CHI 2015 Paper Accepted!

Resilience Mitigates the Negative Effects of Adolescent Internet Addiction and Online Risk Exposure

Authors: Wisniewski, P., Jia, H., Wang, N., Xu, H., Rosson, M.B., and Carroll, J.M.

Abstract: We cannot fully protect adolescents from experiencing online risks; however, we can aim to better understand how online risk experiences impact teens, factors that contribute to or prevent teens from exposure to risk, as well as factors that can protect teens from psychological harm in spite of online risk exposure. Through a web-based survey study of 75 adolescents in the US, we develop and empirically validate a theoretical model of adolescent resilience in the presence of online risks. We show evidence that resilience is a key factor in protecting teens from experiencing online risks, even when teens exhibit high levels of Internet addiction. Resilience also neutralizes the negative psychological effects associated with Internet addiction and online risk exposure. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of design solutions that foster teen resilience and strength building, as opposed to solutions targeted toward parents that often focus on restriction and risk prevention.


Figure 1: Online Risk Exposure partially mediates the relationship between Internet Addiction and Negative Affect


Figure 2: Resilience moderates the effects of Internet Addiction and Online Risk Exposure

We will see you in Seoul, Korea!

Three Privacy-Related CFP’s

Upcoming Privacy Workshops

I am co-organizing two upcoming privacy-related workshops and on the PC of another. Please consider submitting your work or attending!

  • IUI 2015: Workshop on Privacy, Personalization, and (Intelligent) User Interfaces (PPIUI) – Atlanta, GA
  • ACM’s CSCW 2015: Workshop on The Future of Networked Privacy – Vancouver, BC
  • NDSS 2015: Workshop on Usable Security (USEC) – San Diego, CA


CSCW 2015 Privacy Workshop

CSCW 2015 Workshop: The Future of Networked Privacy

Our CSCW 2015 workshop proposal, which was spearheaded by our fearless leader  Jessica Vitak, was official accepted! We will soon be distributing the Call for Participation with a deadline of November 10th. However, if you want to check out the early details, check out the workshop website. This will be a great group of top privacy researchers discussing the main challenges associated with networked privacy and planning for future solutions.

Three CSCW 2015 Full Papers Accepted!

CSCW 2015 Paper Acceptance

I was very excited to hear that three out of four of our CSCW paper submissions were accepted this year!  CSCW had an overall acceptance rate of 28.3%. Here are the titles and abstracts of the three papers we will be presenting in March at CSCW 2015 in Vancouver:

Give Social Network Users the Privacy They Want

Authors: Wisniewski, P., Islam, N., Knijnenburg, B., Patil, S.

Social Network Site (SNS) privacy is often characterized as a trade-off where users must give up privacy to gain social benefits. We investigate the alternative viewpoint that SNS users gain the most benefits when SNSs give them the privacy they desire. Applying structural equation modeling to survey data of 303 Facebook users, we examine the complex relationship between privacy and SNS outcomes. We found that SNS users whose privacy desires (whether high or low) were met reported higher levels of Social Connectedness than users who achieved less privacy than they desired. Social Connectedness, in turn, played a pivotal role in building Social Capital. Additionally, we found that this positive effect of “Privacy Fit” was stronger for casual users than for avid users, and that Privacy Fit was associated with higher levels of Facebook Use. These findings suggest that more openness may not always be better; SNSs should aim to meet users’ privacy needs to enhance the user experience and ensure the sustained use of SNS.

’Preventative’ vs. ‘Reactive:’ How Parental Mediation Influences Teens’ Social Media Privacy Behaviors

Authors: Wisniewski, P., Jia, H., Xu, H., Rosson, M.B., and Carroll, J.M.

Through an empirical, secondary analysis of 588 teens (ages 12 – 17) and one of their parents living in the United States, we present useful insights into how parental privacy concerns for their teens and different parental mediation strategies (direct intervention versus active mediation) influence teen privacy concerns and privacy risk-taking and risk-coping privacy behaviors in social media. Our results suggest that the use of direct intervention by itself may have a suppressive effect on teens, reducing their exposure to online risks but also their ability to engage with others online and to learn how to effective cope with online risks. Therefore, it may be beneficial for parents to combine active mediation with direct intervention so that they can protect their teens from severe online risks while empowering teens to engage with others online and learn to make good online privacy choices.

Risk-taking as a Learning Process for Shaping Teen’s Online Information Privacy Behaviors

Authors: Jia, H., Wisniewski, P., Xu, H., Rosson, M.B., and Carroll, J.M.

Through a secondary data analysis of a nationally representative Pew survey, we empirically test the validity of two contrasting theoretical models of adolescent information privacy behaviors. Our results suggest that in seeking to understand the underlying processes of teens’ privacy risk-taking and risk-coping behaviors within social media, a “risk-centric” framework may be more useful than a traditional “concern-centric” framework that emphasizes privacy antecedents and outcomes. Our newly proposed and validated “risk-centric” framework implies a possible risk escalation process wherein teens make online disclosures and render themselves more susceptible to experiences of risky online interactions; in turn, these risky experiences are associated with higher levels of teen privacy concern. Higher levels of teen privacy concern predict both advice-seeking and remedy/corrective risk-coping behaviors. Drawing on theories of information privacy and developmental psychology, we discuss these findings from the perspective of allowing teens to experience some level of online risk so that they can learn how to navigate the dangers and reap the benefits of online engagement.

Attending SOUPS

Attending SOUPS 2014

Tomorrow, I will be flying to Menlo Park, CA to attend the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security at Facebook’s corporate headquarters. I will be presenting our work on Profiling Facebook Users’ Privacy Behaviors at the Workshop on Privacy Personas and Segmentation (PPS) hosted by Allesandro Acquisti (Carnegie Mellon University), Anthony Morton (University College London), Norman Sadeh (Carnegie Mellon University), and Allison Woodruff (Google ).

This particular work, which came from data I originally collected as part of my dissertation, illustrates how different Facebook users employ different privacy management strategies. Check out the 6 classes of Facebook users we identified based on their privacy behaviors below:


Cooler yet, click here to view an interactive web page that compares the 6 different privacy behavior profiles across Facebook users.

Interviewed for Chicago Tribune Article

Chicago Tribune “Slenderman” Interview

I was called the yesterday by a reporter from the Chicago Tribune regarding my thoughts on the recent breaking story of two 12-year-old girls who stabbed their friend and claimed it was due to the influence of “Slenderman.”

Here is what she quoted:

“Pamela Wisniewski, a researcher for The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, is wrapping up a two-month study that looks at the online experiences of parents and teens.

The study examines different types of risks, including exposure to explicit or harmful content, sexual solicitations, cyber bullying and information breaches. The 75 pairs of parents and teens reported exposure to explicit or harmful content the most frequently, Wisniewski said.

“So far, we’ve seen that they’re exposed to a lot of mature content online, be it pornography, or cutting, or a lot of self harm, or more deviant behaviors than we adults would imagine,” Wisniewski said.

Wisniewski does not recommend that parents completely restrict teens from the Internet, noting that it could backfire when, instead of obeying the order, they conceal their online presence. But parents should still be aware of what their children are doing, she said.”

You can read the full story that was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

Some International Press

Some International Press

An article written by Matt Swayne at Penn State Research Communications on our recent CSCW paper was picked up by the AP:

Thanks, Matt!

CHI Best Paper Honorable Mention

CHI Best Paper Honorable Mention

I just got word that our paper received a best of CHI 2014 award:


“We are pleased to inform you that your paper, Understanding User Adaptation Strategies for the Launching of Facebook Timeline, has been selected to receive a SIGCHI Best of CHI Honorable Mention Award. The SIGCHI Best of CHI Awards honor exceptional submissions to SIGCHI sponsored conferences. Receiving an Honorable Mention Award indicates that your paper was identified by the CHI Associate Chairs as being among the top 5% of all submission to CHI 2014.”

While I won’t be in Toronto for CHI this year, my co-author Yunan Chen from UC Irvine will be presenting our paper.  Don’t miss it!

Also, here is a news feature written by Matt Swayne in Penn State Research Communications on our paper: Social media users need help to adjust to interface changes