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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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Building User Groups

Since our current social networks don’t yet allow for the autogeneration of user clusters based on real-world relationships, providing users with a method to cluster themselves based on shared interests or backgrounds will help them connect with others as they wish.

Two main channels that Facebook uses for this purpose are Pages and Groups. These mechanisms allow people to follow (or like) companies or topics that they are interested in, as well as have a central discussion space to interact with people that share the same interest.

Capitalizing on these group relationships is also a very important aspect of application development. Groups and Pages, which are displayed as “entities” within the user’s social profile, give a developer a wealth of knowledge about a person beyond what her profile can tell you. This information will allow you to build a relevant social graph within the application or site that you are constructing.

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