Developers Need Protection, Too: Perspectives and Research Challenges for Privacy in Social Coding Platforms
Social Coding Platforms (SCPs) like GitHub have become central to modern software engineering thanks to their collaborative and version-control features. Like in mainstream Online Social Networks (OSNs) such as Facebook, users of SCPs are subjected to privacy attacks and threats given the high amounts of personal and project-related data available in their profiles and software repositories. However, unlike in OSNs, the privacy concerns and practices of SCP users have not been extensively explored nor documented in the current literature. In this work, we present the preliminary results of an online survey (N=105) addressing developers’ concerns and perceptions about privacy threats steaming from SCPs. Our results suggest that, while users express concern about social and organisational privacy threats, they often feel safe sharing personal and project-related information on these platforms. Moreover, attacks targeting the inference of sensitive attributes are considered more likely than those seeking to re-identify source-code contributors. Based on these findings, we propose a set of recommendations for future investigations addressing privacy and identity management in SCPs.