The P2P network group is working on new methods to protect privacy on the internet in general and - due to their relevance - especially in social networks. Therefore it is very important for us to know how users are using social networks. We want to understand which functionality is used to communicate with friends or strangers in different situations. This data can later be used to simulate newly developed systems under realistic conditions.
To collect this data, we need volunteers who are willing to share this information with us. We built a browser extension for this purpose. It records all activities while using Facebook. For every action, the time of the interaction and the properties of the interaction-object are saved. The extension can be downloaded here for both the Chrome as well as the Firefox browser.
Since we respect the privacy of our volunteers, only meta-data is collected. We do not save or process any content of the posts or pages. We only store and collect properties of these data. (E.g., type of entry, author, date of creation). When a user "likes" a post of his friend, not the content of the message is stored, but only the ID of the post and who composed it and when. Of course, the IDs of the authors and the posts are also anonymous: we are just interested in the relation status of the users (e.g. friend, friend-of-friend).
The extension automatically detects the user to browse on Facebook and runs automatically in the background. No further actions are required. Before the collected data is sent to us, it can be reviewed by the user to agree on sharing it. To give a benefit to our volunteers there will also be a function that displays the collected data. It a a great chance to get insights of how Facebook was used. If data collection is complete, the user is informed and receives assistance on how to delete the extension.
The extension is developed at TU Darmstadt under the direction of Thomas Paul and Thorsten Strufe by Daniel Puscher, who also developed the "Facebook Privacy Watcher".