Dr. Sebastian Göndör
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Seamless interoperability and data portability in the social web for facilitating an open and heterogeneous online social network federation
Online Social Networks (OSN) have become an integral part of our everyday lives. We express ourselves, create and collect content such as images or videos, share content and information with our friends and colleagues, exchange messages, or keep track of what's happening in the world. Yet, despite social communication being implicitly a distributed, decentralized phenomenon, most OSN services are built in a central, monolithic fashion, concentrating all knowledge and power in one company or organization. This contradicts the idea of the social web, as proprietary and isolated walled gardens keep users from being able to freely choose an OSN platform provider or to effectively control their privacy. In order to mitigate the problem, alternative architectures that distribute control and data to multiple independent services were proposed. Unfortunately, the implicit network effects existing in large OSN services still prevent users from migrating to alternative solutions in significant numbers. Moreover, technical protocols for facilitating holistic and seamless interoperability and furthermore data portability in OSN services do not exist. Ultimately, today's OSN market is dominated by one single service which has been able to attract a significant amount of users, while a large number of competing services and alternative solutions exist that combine a comparably small number of users.
Two main issues have been identified that contribute to the current situation of one OSN service heavily dominating the entire market, being the lack of data portability and interoperability between different OSN services.
This work proposes Sonic, a solution that aims to interconnect arbitrary OSN services into one open and heterogeneous federation of OSN services. Sonic introduces an open communication protocol and data formats that are able to facilitate interconnectivity of OSN sevices. The proposed architecture supports core features implemented in today's most popular OSN services and facilitates extended functionality through an extensibility framework.