When social links are network links: The dawn of peer-to-peer social networks and its implications for privacy

Francesca Musiani


Despite the success they enjoy among Internet users today, social networking tools are currently subject to several controversies, notably concerning the uses their administrators make of users’ private data. Today, many projects and applications propose decentralised alternatives to such services, among which one of the most promising appears to be the construction of the social network on a peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture. This paper addresses and analyses the "first steps" of applications at the crossroads between social networks and P2P networks. More specifically, it discusses how such applications anticipate modifications in the management of users’ right to privacy, by harnessing both anonymity and knowledge of identity – aspects generally identified with P2P networks and social networks, respectively – depending on the different functionalities and layers of the application.


Peer-to-peer; social network; privacy; architecture; anonymity; identity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS432010383