Christo Wilson

I am an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in the College of Computer and Information Science. I received my PhD from UCSB working under Ben Y. Zhao.My research interests include auditing algorithms, security and privacy, and online social networks. Much of my work focuses on using measured data to analyze and understand complex phenomenon on the the Web. In many cases, I have leveraged the knowledge gained from measurements of the Web to build systems that improve security, privacy, and transparency for users.As a new professor, I am actively recruiting new students. If you are interested in auditing algorithms, personalization algorithms, online tracking and privacy, or security on the Web, read the prospective students section of my webpage, and then send me an email.

Current Projects Auditing Algorithms: In recent years, there has been growing awareness of and concern about powerful algorithms that mediate information on the Web. For example, Google Search and Facebook both personalize the information shown to each user, while e-commerce sites leverage purchase history to drive advertisements and product recommendations. These algorithms can lead directly to harmful outcomes, such as politically-polarizing “echo chambers”, Filter Bubbles, price discrimination by e-commerce sites against consumers, and even racial discrimination. In our work, we are focused on auditing algorithms: we use carefully controlled experiments to understand the data and algorithms used by companies, and assess the impact of these algorithms on normal people. Examples of our work include personalization on Google Search, price discrimination on major e-commerce sites, and Uber’s surge price algorithm. Our ultimate goals are to make algorithmic systems more transparent to the public, and to develop tools that help users avoid unwanted or harmful systems. We are also actively collaborating with regulators like the European Commission to turn our research findings into practical policy outcomes. Understanding Online and Offline Tracking:Tracking is ubiquitous on the Web today, and yet we have only the most basic understanding of who collects data about us, and how this data is shared with third-parties. We are currently engaged in several projects that are delving inside the tracking ecosystem to answer these questions, including looking at how information collected about consumers in the offline world gets moved into online contexts. Based on our findings, we plan to empower users with tools to help protect their privacy.

Source: Christo Wilson