Centralized to Decentralized Social Networks: Factors that Matter

Centralized to Decentralized Social Networks: Factors that Matter

Maryam Qamar (National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan), Mehwish Malik (National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan), Saadia Batool (National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan), Sidra Mehmood (National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan), Asad W. Malik (National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan) and Anis Rahman (National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9767-6.ch003
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This work covers the research work on decentralization of Online Social Networks (OSNs), issues with centralized design are studied with possible decentralized solutions. Centralized architecture is prone to privacy breach, p2p architecture for data and thus authority decentralization with encryption seems a possible solution. OSNs' users grow exponentially causing scalability issue, a natural solution is decentralization where users bring resources with them via personal machines or paid services. Also centralized services are not available unremittingly, to this end decentralization proposes replication. Decentralized solutions are also proposed for reliability issues arising in centralized systems and the potential threat of a central authority. Yet key to all problems isn't found, metadata may be enough for inferences about data and network traffic flow can lead to information on users' relationships. First issue can be mitigated by data padding or splitting in uniform blocks. Caching, dummy traffic or routing through a mix of nodes can be some possible solutions to the second.
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Dosn Architecture

In simple words DOSN can be defined as an online social service with an underlying distributed network layout which lets users communicate and share. A general architecture layout for DOSN inspired by the work of Paul et al. (2014) is shown in figure 1. It comprises of a lowest Network layer, a middle layer consisting of DOSN’s core functionality and an upper layer subdivide in two layers with upper most being a user interface and the lower one hidden from users providing services to upper layer.

Figure 1.

DOSN Architecture1



A lot of factors motivate and control a big move like decentralizing online social networks, in this paper focus is on some primary ones, that is, privacy control, availability, scalability, security and reliability of data. Some basic research in this field is discussed first then more focused work regarding each issue is discussed in its relevant sub-section.

Buchegger and Datta (2009) did a case study to put forward the opportunities and challenges, a p2p social network comes with. It is speculated that the removal of a central entity with unequal power over users’ data is a base opportunity and motivation for users’ to adopt decentralized architecture, where their privacy can be protected via a combination of encryption techniques and inherent capabilities of p2p architecture, on the other side the service providers of central OSNs will look at the paradigm shift regrettably as they will possibly lose business opportunities. The challenge of realizing decentralized social networks lies in the nature of social networking, DOSNs should make data available even when individual peers are down, grant authorized access and tackle security issues.

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