TAPESTRY: Trust, Authentication and Privacy over a DeCentralised Social Registry

Timeframe: 2017-2021
Funder: ESPRC

TAPESTRY investigates and demonstrates new ways to enable people, businesses and services to make better decisions about who they should trust online, by exploiting the ‘tapestry’ of multimodal signals woven by everyday digital interaction. Research outcomes include social science work at Dundee exploring user attitudes and behaviours around trust, to inform the design of the prototype platform; and visual design ­at Northumbria exploring ways to communicate an impression of the provenance that an online identity holds. The Surrey team has developed machine-learning algorithms that derive provenance information from longitudinal social media streams, encrypt and store its ‘essence’ as trust evidence in a blockchain application, and generate a ‘provenance visualisation’ in real time. The ­­prototype technology has been trialled at workshops in Newcastle and Surrey to evaluate its acceptability and efficacy in helping people decide on the legitimacy of an online identity. Supplementary research concerns developing and trialing design workshop approache­s towards promoting understanding amongst multidisciplinary research teams developing ‘opaque’ technologies. The wider team has presented insights into trust online and accounts of the technology to several government departments.