This paper explores the potential of data mining as a technique that could be used by malicious data miners to threaten the privacy of social network sites (SNS) users. It applies a data mining algorithm to a real dataset to provide empirically-based evidence of the ease with which characteristics about the SNS users can be discovered and used in a way that could invade their privacy. One major contribution of this article is the use of the decision forest data mining algorithm (SysFor) to the context of SNS, which does not only build a decision tree but rather a forest allowing the exploration of more logic rules from a dataset. One logic rule that SysFor built in this study, for example, revealed that anyone having a profile picture showing just the face or a picture showing a family is less likely to be lonely. Another contribution of this article is the discussion of the implications of the data mining problem for governments, businesses, developers and the SNS users themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-966
Number of pages26
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number4
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


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