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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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The Online Social Graph

We no longer live in a time where our offline lives are divorced from our online lives, where a user can interact anonymously with the Web without worrying about the implications it may have on her life.

Today, any social web interaction we participate in, site we log on to, or online merchant we purchase from leaves a virtual footprint that someone can track to enhance ad targeting, provide alternative options for our future purchases, or identify individuals in our social circles who have a higher likelihood of using or purchasing something if someone they know has already done so.

As citizens of the social web, we typically have a multitude of different social graphs depending on which social services we use, what information we have provided to them, and how they interact with other social services. Although we might share different information on these services, the concept of the social graph applies to all of them.

Note

Our social graphs differ depending on how we use the service. For instance, we may have one professional social graph for colleagues and professional contacts on LinkedIn, another for friends and family on Facebook, and yet another for technically minded peers on Github.

There is an adage relating to the concept of a free web: if you are using a service for free, you are not the customer—you’re the product being sold. What this means is that companies like ad agencies use your online footprint, social relationships, and interaction history ...

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