Problematic Content in Online Ads

Tuesday, August 08, 2023 - 4:15 pm4:45 pm

Franziska Roesner, University of Washington


Online advertisements are an unavoidable fact of the modern web: they are embedded in and financially support the majority of content websites. Much prior work in the computer security and privacy community has previously studied the ecosystem of online advertising, particularly in terms of its privacy implications. What has not been substantively considered in the security community, however, is the visible, user-facing content of these advertisements. Our recent work reveals significant prevalence of a range of problematic content in these ads, including clickbait, misinformation, scams, and manipulative design patterns. In this talk, I will describe our work characterizing and measuring problematic content in the online ad ecosystem, including investigations of ad content on misinformation sites, political-themed ads on news and media websites around the time of the 2020 U.S. elections, and ads seen from Ukraine and Russia during the first six months of the war.

Franziska Roesner, University of Washington

Franziska (Franzi) Roesner is an Associate Professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where she co-directs the Security and Privacy Research Lab. Her research focuses broadly on computer security and privacy for end users of existing and emerging technologies, including on topics like online tracking and advertising, security and privacy for sensitive user groups, security and privacy in emerging augmented reality (AR) and IoT platforms, and online mis/disinformation. She is the recipient of a Consumer Reports Digital Lab Fellowship, an MIT Technology Review ”Innovators Under 35” Award, an Emerging Leader Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Austin, a Google Security and Privacy Research Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. Her work has received paper awards or runners-up at USENIX Security, the IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy, the ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), and the ACM Web Conference, as well as Test of Time Awards at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design & Implementation (NSDI) and the IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy. She serves on the USENIX Security and USENIX Enigma Steering Committees.

@conference {292508,
author = {Franziska Roesner},
title = {Problematic Content in Online Ads},
year = {2023},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug