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[liberationtech] a privacy preserving and resilient social network

Alireza Mahdian alireza.mahdian at
Fri Jun 28 12:01:37 PDT 2013

To answer your concerns Eleanor: If you are talking about content unlinkability as implemented in Darknet I don't want that in a social network that works like Facebook. I want to be able to trust the contents that are published on it based on their linkability to their publishers. Think of Facebook with no content linkability, it is not even meaningful anymore. what does it mean to have a wall if no one knows who the wall belongs to. it is a completely different experience and I did not want that in MyZone. I was more aiming at a distributed Facebook where user contents are stored on their own devices and mirrored on trusted devices. 

Now if you are talking about the linkability of users within the social graph I would also recommend you to take a look at my thesis where I have introduced the concept of social hosting. an advantage of this is that let's say user A and B are friends also B and C are friends but not A and C. if B chooses A as a mirror then C would at some point connect to A to receive B's updates or interact with B's profile while it is offline (writing something on B's wall for example) at this point the entity that monitors all the links (let's say the government) would wrongly assume that A and C are friends (linkability) while it is not true. now the users can use this to their advantage and when prosecuted they can deny the linkability by just giving the counter example of this i.e. if A and C are really friends and A happens to be a person of interest C can always claim that A was not his friend and he only connected to A because it was hosting B which is a non threatening user. I have introduced the concept of deniability while providing authentication in the system. the authenticity is valid within the social network (if A publishes something it is traced back to A by all of A's friends) while the deniability is valid outside the social network (as I made the example). As john mentioned the user experience is very important if at some point this system is going to compete with something like Facebook therefore implementing this on top of an overlay network would not be a good design choice. As for any system I am not claiming that this system does not suffer from any drawbacks but at least it's a fully functioning system that provides a pretty good user experience while preserving their privacy. also at its full implementation it is resilient towards large scale DDoS attacks and black outs which is what I mean by resiliency. 

To answer John: As I mentioned in an earlier post I have done this protect myself from any liability if someone modifies the code rendering it a malware. I may publish the service layer code independently under a different license where anyone can modify it as they want to. However I do understand your point.

On Jun 28, 2013, at 11:14 AM, Jonathan Wilkes <jancsika at> wrote:

> From: Eleanor Saitta <ella at>
> To: liberationtech <liberationtech at> 
> Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013 12:24 PM
> Subject: Re: [liberationtech] a privacy preserving and resilient social network
> [...]
> >Congratulations!  Your job is now to figure out how to make it faster
> while keeping the same privacy guarantees.  You don't get to opt out,
> because you can't do any meaningful work until you've done this.
> Actually it looks like there might be meaningful work here on the mirroring
> front.  Mirroring content on trusted friends' machines is something the
> Freedombox folks mused about, and the video demos what looks like
> a user-friendly implementation of the same idea.
> Just curious, Eleanor-- once you implement your "bullet-proof" privacy-
> preserving network, how do you plan to make the user experience at all
> tolerable without automated mirroring like what this developer has written
> and tested?
> Of course this is all moot while the license of "it's free and open, as long
> as you ask me first and I agree" is in effect.  I can't imagine anyone taking
> a serious look at the code with that.
> -Jonathan
> -Jonathan
> E.
> - -- 
> Ideas are my favorite toys.
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Alireza Mahdian
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado at Boulder
Email: alireza.mahdian at

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