Linking Multiple User Identities of Multiple Services from Massive Mobility Traces

Huandong Wang, Yong Li, Gang Wang, Depeng Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the linkability of online user identifiers (IDs) is critical to both service providers (for business intelligence) and individual users (for assessing privacy risks). Existing methods are designed to match IDs across two services but face key challenges of matching multiple services in practice, particularly when users have multiple IDs per service. In this article, we propose a novel system to link IDs across multiple services by exploring the spatial-temporal features of user activities, of which the core idea is that the same user's online IDs are more likely to repeatedly appear at the same location. Specifically, we first utilize a contact graph to capture the "co-location"of all IDs across multiple services. Based on this graph, we propose a set-wise matching algorithm to discover candidate ID sets and use Bayesian inference to generate confidence scores for candidate ranking, which is proved to be optimal. We evaluate our system using two real-world ground-truth datasets from an Internet service provider (4 services, 815K IDs) and Twitter-Foursquare (2 services, 770 IDs). Extensive results show that our system significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art algorithms in accuracy (AUC is higher by 0.1-0.2), and it is highly robust against data quality, matching order, and number of services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 12 2021


  • Identity linkage
  • online services
  • set-wise id matching
  • spatio-temporal trajectory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Artificial Intelligence


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