A Walk Through Social Network Analysis: Opportunities, Limitations, and Threats

A Walk Through Social Network Analysis: Opportunities, Limitations, and Threats

Atul Srivastava, Anuradha Pillai, Dimple Juneja Gupta
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2814-2.ch001
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Since last more than forty years, social network analysis (SNA) techniques have evolved as one of the successful applications of Internet. Numerous reasons demand better understanding of the structure of social networks, need of their analysis and their impact on future Internet and society. For instance, finding the shared interest and trust could be one of the reasons to study social networks. Moreover, if in future, distributed online social networks are popular and bandwidth intensive, they can have a significant impact on Internet traffic, just as current peer-to-peer content distribution networks do. Regardless of one's stance on these phenomena, a better understanding of the structure of social networks is likely to improve our understanding of the opportunities, limitations and threats associated with these ideas. For instance, gigantic size of online social networks, their dynamic behavior, clustering and privacy policies held by users are some of the major challenges. This chapter presents an engraved review spanning from need of SNA to the implications associated with it.
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1. Introduction

Social Network Analysis (SNA) analyses the structural properties of individuals or groups of individuals in a network. These measurements not only depict perspectives of the interconnections and relationships amongst various individuals but also consider the effect of these interconnections on each other as well as on the group of interconnected individuals.

The term online social network more commonly known as social network deals with the interconnections amongst socially active individuals hereon referred to as actors. In fact, social network offers a platform to people for sharing knowledge, thoughts or opinions and more often to maintain societal relationship.

Figure 1.

A graphical representation of social network


As shown in Figure 1, analytically, these can be observed as large graphs in which the users are represented as nodes and relationships between nodes are depicted as edges between them. The edge may or may not be directed depending on the structure of the social network. And also an edge between two nodes depicts that the connected nodes have already shared some information.

As an alternative representation, adjacency matrix delineated in Table 1 also represents Figure 1.

Table 1.
Adjacency matrix representation of social network
Actors/ UsersActors/Users

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