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BBL Speaker Series: Safety in Algorithmically-Mediated Offline Introductions

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Speaker: Veronica Rivera, Embedded Ethics Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University

Location: HBK 2105 and Zoom

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Abstract: Algorithms increasingly mediate interactions that cross the digital-physical divide, creating both online and offline safety risks. In this talk, I will share my work on understanding safety in algorithmically-mediated offline introductions (AMOIs). In AMOIs, digital platforms use algorithms to match strangers for offline meetups (e.g., online dating, gig work). Thus, harm in AMOIs transcends digital boundaries into the physical world, raising questions about how to measure harm and who bears responsibility. In my first study, I examine how women gig workers’ experiences with safety are shaped by both individual risk factors and platform design. In my second study, I systemetize harms and protective behaviors across gig workers and online daters and measure the prevalence of different harms and behaviors. Ultimately, my work shows that users who engage in seemingly disparate kinds of AMOIs actually share many safety concerns and protective behaviors.

Bio: Veronica Rivera is an Embedded Ethics Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University where she works with the Empirical Security Research Group, the Institute for Human-Centered AI, and the Center for Ethics in Society. Her research lies at the intersection of HCI and security. She studies the digital safety needs and challenges of marginalized and vulnerable populations. She has a PhD in computational media from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a BS in computer science and math from Harvey Mudd College. She was previously a visitor at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and at the Center for Privacy and Security of Marginalized and Vulnerable Populations at the University of Florida.