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Affinity Workshop: WiML Workshop 1

How we browse: Measurement and analysis of digital behavior

Yuliia Lut · Rachel Cummings


Accurately analyzing and modeling online browsing behavior play a key role in understanding users and technology interactions. In this work, we design and conduct a user study to collect browsing data from 31 participants continuously for 14 days and self-reported browsing patterns. We combine self-reports and observational data to provide an up-to-date measurement study of online browsing behavior. We use these data to empirically address the following questions: (1) Do structural patterns of browsing differ across demographic groups and types of web use?, (2) Do people have correct perceptions of their behavior online?, and (3) Does the length of time that people are observed relate to changes in their browsing behavior? In response to these questions, we find significant differences in level of activity based on user age, but not based on race or gender. We also find that users have significantly different behavior on Security Concerns websites, which may enable new behavioral methods for automatic detection of security concerns online. We find that users significantly overestimate the time they spend online, but have relatively accurate perceptions of how they spend their time online. We find no significant changes in behavior over the course of the study, which may indicate that observation had no effect on behavior or that users were consciously aware of being observed throughout the study.

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