Distributed social network
A distributed social network or federated social network is an Internet social networking service that is decentralized and distributed across distinct providers. It consists of multiple social websites, where users of each site communicate with users of any of the involved sites. A social website participating in a distributed social network is interoperable with the other sites and is in federation with them. Communication among the social websites is technically conducted over social networking protocols. Software used for distributed social networking is generally portable so it is easily adopted on various website platforms. Distributed social networks contrast with social network aggregation services, which are used to manage accounts and activities across multiple discrete social networks.
Open standards such as OAuth authorization, OpenID authentication, OStatus federation, XRD metadata discovery, the Portable Contacts protocol, the Wave Federation Protocol, the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) (aka Jabber), OpenSocial widget APIs, microformats like XFN and hCard, and Atom web feeds—increasingly referred to together as the Open Stack—are often cited as enabling technologies for distributed social networking.
A few social networking service providers have used the term more broadly to describe provider-specific services that are distributable across different websites, typically through added widgets or plug-ins. Through the add-ons, the social network functionality is implemented on users' websites.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a U.S. legal defense organization and advocacy group for civil liberties on the Internet, endorses the distributed social network model as one "that can plausibly return control and choice to the hands of the Internet user" and allow persons living under restrictive regimes to "conduct activism on social networking sites while also having a choice of services and providers that may be better equipped to protect their security and anonymity".
Comparison of software and protocols 
From a societal perspective, one may compare this concept to that of social media being a public utility.
- Collective intelligence
- Geosocial networking
- Mobile social network
- Personal Network
- Professional network service
- Social identity
- Virtual community
Notes and references
- Wiki of Federated Social Web W3C Incubator Group
- Federated Social Web Conference 2011
- Comparison of protocol/software projects for distributed social networking
- Diploma Thesis from the University of Applied Sciences Dresden(HTW) about XMPP-based Federated Social Networks like buddycloud(CC-BY)
- Paper on FOAF in an Android environment by Tramp, S., Frischmuth, P., Arndt, N., Ermilov, T., and Auer, S. (2011). Weaving a distributed, semantic social network for mobile users. In Antoniou, G., editor, ESWC 2011, Part I, LNCS 6643, pages 200–214.
- Video by Henry Story demonstrating FOAF in an Android environment