Functional Parameters of Online Social Network
Different OSNs are usually tailored for some specific uses, but the functionality of these networks is quite standardised. In general, the functionality of OSNs can be classified into three main categories:
- • Networking function: It is the actual work of OSN, i.e. to build a social relationship between users within a virtual platform by eliminating geographical barriers. In particular, it provides the facility of building and maintaining the social network structure. OSN users build their profiles by adding other accounts and establishing their networks through sharing and interaction of information among users. To create their accounts, users use the create function option by putting their personal details on the OSN platform. The users then establish their networks by profile lookup features. Thereafter, the users use various features of OSNs to communicate, share, and interact with others in the network.
- • Data function: The users on different OSNs advertise themselves by posting blogs, conducting forums, creating polls, chatting, direct messaging, and liking and sharing different posts, etc. Features like profile update help the user to update their account and maintain the same by providing latest information to their friends. Using post function, users communicate and share their contents on social platform to show their interest and invite other users to visit their profiles. This information is not only textual but also contains videos, audios, links, etc. A user also uses the facility of OSN database to store personal information by transferring digital contents. Also, to rate other users’ content on social platform, user uses “like” and “dislike” function.
- • Access control function: To define the user’s own account privacy, access control mechanisms are provided by the service provider in OSNs. In particular, OSN users may have control over their visibility or online presence, contacts, profile information, and uploaded contents. All this information is uploaded on OSN, and the list of profiles have the permission to access it. The known profiles are registered with user groups such as friends, mutual friends, or some other groups such as school friends and family, etc.
Interaction Among Service Providers and Its Users
OSN service providers provide various social networking services and some additional interfaces to their users for information sharing, interaction, and content sharing with other users on the same social network platform. These users are from various domains to pursue their goals. OSN users may advertise their services and products through OSN. These advertisements are of different kinds such as commercial products, marketing products, and other services. Another type of users in OSNs are knowrn as the third-party service providers, who use OSN services to extend their service and develop new' applications. These applications include games and quizzes, executed through server control of third-party services via their application programming interfaces (APIs). Also, these applications have extensive access to users’ private information on OSNs. Finally, the users act as a data analyst in OSNs. These users have the authenticity to access the personal profile of different users and publicise information in the form of texts, audios, videos, and links. The activities between service providers, user, and third-party developer act as a cyclic process for communication and interaction. The detail of communication and connection between social network service providers and the users is depicted in Figure 1.1.
Background and Motivation
When the use of the Internet became widespread, people experienced a whole new paradigm. Moreover, personal lifestyle also transformed due to the emergence of new' devices and systems. An OSN has become an essential part of human life - starting from sharing of private content such as age, date of birth, bank account number, address, pictures, text messages, sharing latest news to sharing new's-related information (Rathore, Sharma, Loia, Jeong, & Park, 2017). Other activities include sharing exam question papers, student assignments, workshop details, various online surveys, marketing information, targeting customers in business domain, jokes, songs, and videos by the users over OSNs (Zeidanloo, Zadeh, Shooshtari, Safari, & Zamani, 2010). Also, every year the number of OSN users has been enhancing rapidly w'orldw'ide. According to the Statista statistics report (Statista Report about Online Social Networking Users, n.d.), the number of OSN users worldw'ide from 2010 to 2020 and forecast up to 2023 are depicted in Figure 1.2. Also, this report
FIGURE 1.1 Communication and connection between social network provider and its user.
FIGURE 1.2 Number of online social network users worldwide from 2010 to 2020 and forecast up to 2023.
FIGURE 1.3 Number of users of leading online social networking websites around the globe as of July 2020.
describes the statistics of leading OSNs as on July 2020 (Statista Report about Online Social Networking Users, n.d.) on the basis of the number of current users on different OSNs as depicted in Figure 1.3. It is stated that Facebook is the leading OSN globally.