Arcana: Enabling private posts on public microblog platforms

Anirudh Narasimman, Qiaozhi Wang, Fengjun Li, Dongwon Lee, Bo Luo

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

2 Scopus citations


Many popular online social networks, such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Sina Weibo, adopt too simple privacy models to satisfy users’ diverse needs for privacy protection. In platforms with no (i.e., completely open) or binary (i.e., “public” and “friends-only”) access control, users cannot control the dissemination boundary of the content they share. For instance, on Twitter, tweets in “public” accounts are accessible to everyone including search engines, while tweets in “protected” accounts are visible to all the followers. In this work, we present Arcana to enable fine-grained access control for social network content sharing. In particular, we target the Twitter platform and introduce the “private tweet” function, which allows users to disseminate particular tweets to designated group(s) of followers. Arcana employs Ciphertext-Policy Attribute-based Encryption (CP-ABE) to implement social circle detection and private tweet encryption so that access-controlled tweets are only readable by designated recipients. To be stealthy, Arcana further embeds the protected content as digital watermarks in image tweets. We have implemented the Arcana prototype as a Chrome browser plug-in, and demonstrated its flexibility and effectiveness. Different from existing approaches that require trusted third-parties or additional server/broker/mediator, Arcana is light-weight and completely transparent to Twitter – all the communications, including key distribution and private tweet dissemination, are exchanged as Twitter messages. Therefore, with small API modifications, Arcana could be easily ported to other online social networking platforms to support fine-grained access control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationICT Systems Security and Privacy Protection - 34th IFIP TC 11 International Conference, SEC 2019, Proceedings
EditorsGurpreet Dhillon, Fredrik Karlsson, Karin Hedström, André Zúquete
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783030223113
StatePublished - 2019
Event34th IFIP TC 11 International Conference on Information Security and Privacy Protection, SEC 2019 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: Jun 25 2019Jun 27 2019

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
ISSN (Print)1868-4238
ISSN (Electronic)1868-422X


Conference34th IFIP TC 11 International Conference on Information Security and Privacy Protection, SEC 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management


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