Jessica Vitak

Jessica Vitak

Jessica Vitak

Assistant Professor & Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI)
(301) 405-8617
(301) 314-9145


BA in Communication and Journalism from Elon University

MA in Communication, Culture & Technology from Georgetown University

PhD in Media & Information Studies from Michigan State


2117G Hornbake Building, South Wing


Dr. Vitak is currently the Associate Director of HCIL and Director of CASCI. She is also affiliated with the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2) on campus. Vitak heads the Privacy+Security Internet Research Lab at Maryland and collaborates with a number of faculty and students across campus, at other US institutions, and with colleagues in Europe. In 2015, she  received  an UMD  ADVANCE Seed Grant with two journalism professors to study women’s online harassment experiences and identify methods to mitigate the harmful effects of such behaviors.  Vitak  publishes regularly in prominent communication journals and within the CHI and CSCW communities. 

Research interests

Benefits and drawbacks of communication technologies 
How social and technical affordances shape disclosures and interactions
How individuals and organizations balance the tensions between disclosing personal information and protecting the privacy of that information


  • INST-611 (Privacy & Security in a Networked World) 
  • INST-627
  • INST-808
  • INST-201

Recent Publications & Products

  • Vitak, J., Shilton, K., & Ashktorab, Z. (2016) Beyond the Belmont Principles: Ethical challenges, practices, and beliefs in the online data research community. Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. 941-953). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2818048.2820078 [pdf]/

  • Glasgow, K., Vitak, J., Tauszik, Y., & Fink, C. “With your help… we begin to heal”: Social media expressions of gratitude in the aftermath of disaster. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling and Prediction (SBP-BRiMS) (pp. 236-238). Washington, DC: Springer. [Best Paper Winner] [pdf]/

  • Glasgow, K., Vitak, J., Tausczik, Y., & Fink, C. (2016). Grieving in the 21st century: Social media’s role in facilitating supportive exchanges following community-level traumatic events. Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Social Media & Society. New York: ACM. [pdf]/

  • Ashktorab, Z., & Vitak, J. (2016). Designing cyberbullying mitigation and prevention solutions through participatory design with teenagers. Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. forthcoming). New York: ACM. [pdf]/

  • Vitak, J., Blasiola, S., Patil, S., & Litt, E. (2015). Balancing audience and privacy tensions on social network sites. International Journal of Communication, 9, 1485-1504. doi: 1932–8036/20150005 [pdf]/

  • Ellison, N., Vitak, J., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2014). Cultivating social resources: The relationship between bridging social capital and Facebook use among adults. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19, 855-870. doi: 10.1111/jcc4.12078 [pdf]/

Research Projects: 

Enhancing Digital Privacy and Security Skills for Low-Socioeconomic Families: Resources for Librarians and Patrons

Principal Investigator: Jessica Vitak
Investigator: Mega Subramaniam
Research Area:

Bringing together interdisciplinary faculty from the iSchool, economically disadvantaged/low socioeconomic status (SES) families, and public library partners may help minimize privacy and security challenges that librarians face and risks that low-SES families face using internet and communication technologies (ICTs).

Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US

Principal Investigator: Jessica Vitak
Research Area:

Mobile devices are efficient and convenient, but also increase the potential for more pervasive forms of digitally mediated surveillance by media companies, marketers, governments, employers, and Internet Service Providers. This project evaluates mobile users’ mental models of privacy.