Innovations in Visualization

Using Visualization to Explore Original and Anonymized LBSN Data

Ebrahim Tarameshloo
Mona Hosseinkhani
Philip W.L. Fong
Sheelagh Carpendale



We present GSUVis, a visualization tool designed to provide better understanding of location-based social network (LBSN) data. LBSN data is one of the most important sources of information for transportation, marketing, health, and public safety. LBSN data consumers are interested in accessing and analysing data that is as complete and as accurate as possible. However, LBSN data contains sensitive information about individuals. Consequently, data anonymization is of critical importance if this data is to be made available to consumers. However, anonymization commonly reduces the utility of information available. Working with privacy experts, we designed GSUVis a visual analytic tool to help experts better understand the effects of anonymization techniques on LBSN data utility. One of GSUVis’s primary goals is to make it possible for people to use LBSN data, without requiring them to gain deep knowledge about data anonymization. To inform the design of GSUVis, we interviewed privacy experts, and collected their tasks and system requirements. Based on this understanding, we designed and implemented GSUVis. It applies two anonymization algorithms for social and location trajectory data to a real-world LBSN dataset and visualizes the data both before and after anonymization. Through feedback from domain experts, we reflect on the effectiveness of GSUVis and the impact of anonymization using visualization.


Ebrahim Tarameshloo, Mona Hosseinkhani Loorak, Philip W.L. Fong, Sheelagh Carpendale. Using Visualization to Explore Original and Anonymized LBSN Data. Computer Graphics Forum, 35(3):291-300, 2016. PDF Paper