Privacy in Online Social Networks: An Ontological Model for Self-Presentation

Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 649)


Online Social Networks (OSNs) have become an important part of daily digital interactions for more than half billion users around the world. Unconstrained by physical spaces, the OSNs offer to web users new interesting means to communicate, interact, and socialize. The OSNs exhibit many of the characteristics of human societies in terms of forming relationships and how those relationships are used for personal information disclosure. However, current OSNs lack an effective mechanism to represent social relationships of the users that leads to undesirable consequences of leakage of users’ personal information to unintended audiences. We propose an ontological model to represent diverse social relationships and manage self-presentation of social web users. This model is inspired from most influential social theories about self-presentation and tie strength. This model regulates personal information disclosure on the basis of social role and relationship quality between the users. We also present results of our user study, which demonstrates that relationship quality plays vital role to control personal information disclosure in social web, and quality of relationship between users can be easily inferred from user interaction patterns in online social networks.


Online social networks Privacy Ontology Audience segregation Tie strength 



This research project is funded by erasmus mundus joint international doctorate in law, science and technology, and administered by CIRSFID, University of Bologna, Italy. This paper is extension of our research work published in PhD symposium of ICWE 2016. The author also acknowledges valuable comments of Leendert van der Torre, Guido Governatori, Serena Villata and Silvio Peroni.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIRSFIDUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.CSCUniversity of LuxembourgLuxembourgLuxembourg

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