“Millions of people are watching you”: Understanding the Digital-Safety Needs and Practices of Creators


Patrawat Samermit, Anna Turner, Patrick Gage Kelley, Tara Matthews, Vanessia Wu, Sunny Consolvo, and Kurt Thomas, Google


Online content creators—who create and share their content on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube—are uniquely at-risk of increased digital-safety threats due to their public prominence, the diverse social norms of wide-ranging audiences, and their access to audience members as a valuable resource. We interviewed 23 creators to understand their digital-safety experiences. This includes the security, privacy, and abuse threats they have experienced across multiple platforms and how the threats have changed over time. We also examined the protective practices they have employed to stay safer, including tensions in how they adopt the practices. We found that creators have diverse threat models that take into consideration their emotional, physical, relational, and financial safety. Most adopted protections—including distancing from technology, moderating their communities, and seeking external or social support—only after experiencing a serious safety incident. Lessons from their experiences help us better prepare and protect creators and ensure a diversity of voices are present online.

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@inproceedings {287123,
author = {Patrawat Samermit and Anna Turner and Patrick Gage Kelley and Tara Matthews and Vanessia Wu and Sunny Consolvo and Kurt Thomas},
title = {{{\textquotedblleft}Millions} of people are watching {you{\textquotedblright}}: Understanding the {Digital-Safety} Needs and Practices of Creators},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {5629--5645},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity23/presentation/samermit},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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