2011 Poster Sessions : Mr. Privacy: An Open Social Networking Platform Based on Email

Student Name : Michael Fischer
Advisor : Monica Lam
Research Areas: Computer Systems
Abstract:
Currently, if a group of friends want to participate in social networking, they must all be on the same social network. On the other hand, however, if a group of friends want to communicate over email, they can, regardless of their email domains.

In this project, we create a distributed social network, called Mr. Privacy, which leverages the distributed infrastructure built by email to create a distributed social network. On the front-end, Mr. Privacy provides applications with a client-side library to create social applications. The backend uses email’s Simple Mail Transit Protocol (SMTP) to transport data, the users existing inbox to store data, and Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) to retrieve stored data. Building off these standards, a level of abstraction is created that uses the email infrastructure as the basis for a distributed social database. Using this distributed social database, friends are able to insert rows into other friends’ databases.

In conclusion, this project creates a protocol for a distributed social network and implements this protocol by leveraging existing email infrastructure. By using a distributed social network, users have control over their own data, can freely move between service providers, and can develop innovative features. Moreover, a distributed social network allows for a future with a social internet rather than a social intranet.

Bio:
Michael Fischer is a PhD student studying Computer Science at Stanford University. He is interested in the theory of collaboration and how it can be applied to the Internet to promote innovation and creativity with large groups of people. Michael is also interested in applying computer science to problems in physics and mathematics. Michael received his bachelor's degree from Stanford in Computer Science with honors. Michael can be reached at mfischer@cs.stanford.edu.