Columbia XRay web transparency project

Gregory Foster gfoster at
Sat Aug 23 12:01:29 PDT 2014

> XRay is a research project from Columbia University that aims to improve transparency of data usage on the web. You can learn more on our website.

> ...we developed XRay, a new tool that reveals which data in a web account, such as emails, searches, or viewed products, are being used to target which outputs, such as ads, recommended products, or prices. It can increase end-user awareness about what the services they use do with their data, and it can enable auditors and watchdogs with the necessary tools to keep the Web in check.
> Currently, XRay can reveal some forms of targeting for Gmail ads, Amazon product recommendations, and YouTube video recommendations. However, XRay's core mechanisms are largely service-agnostic, providing the necessary building blocks that we hope will enable a new generation of auditing tools that will help lift the curtain on how users' personal data is being used.
> Using our XRay Gmail prototype, we found some pretty interesting examples of data uses, such as a number of ads targeting depression, cancer, and other illnesses. We also saw quite a few subprime loan ads for used cars that targeted debt, loan, or borrow keywords in users' inboxes.

YouTube (Aug 20) - "XRay: web transparency tool":

HT @kdnuggets:


Gregory Foster || gfoster at
@gregoryfoster <>

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