iSocial: Decentralized Online Social Networks

The rapid proliferation of Online Social Networking (OSN) sites is expected to reshape the Internet’s structure, design, and utility. We believe that OSNs create a potentially transformational change in consumer behavior and will bring a far-reaching impact on traditional industries of content, media, and communications.

The iSocial ITN aspires to bring a transformational change in Online Social Service provision, pushing the state-of-the-art from centralized services towards totally decentralized systems that will pervade our environment and seamlessly integrate with future Internet and media services. OSN decentralization can address privacy considerations and improve service scalability, performance and fault-tolerance in the presence of an expanding base of users and applications. The project will pursue the vision of a decentralized Ubiquitous Social Networking Layer and the development of a novel distributed computing substrate that provides Decentralized Online Social Networking (DOSN) services and supports the seamless development and deployment of new social applications and services, in the absence of central management and control.

The iSocial consortium, which consists of 7 full partners and 6 associate partners, envisions the emergence of distributed and scalable overlay networking and distributed storage infrastructures that will provide support for open social networks and for innovative social network applications, preserving end-user privacy and information ownership. The main objective of iSocial is to provide world class training for a next generation of researchers, computer scientists, and Web engineers, emphasizing on a strong combination of advanced understanding in both theoretical and experimental approaches, methodologies and tools that are required to develop Decentralized Online Social Networking platforms. iSocial training network will fund 11 Ph.D. students and 5 post-doctoral fellows. To meet this goal, iSocial is divided into four interconnected research topics, which include important research challenges with a high exploitation potential:

- Overlay Infrastructure for Decentralized Online Social Networking Services;

- Data storage & distribution;

- Security, privacy & trust;

- Modelling and Simulation.

iSocial project ran from October 2012 to September 2016.