The rapid proliferation of Online Social Network (OSN) sites has made a profound impact on the WWW, which tends to reshape its structure, design, and utility. Industry experts believe that OSNs create a potentially transformational change in consumer behavior and will bring a far-reaching impact on traditional industries of content, media, and communications. This chapter starts out by presenting the current status of OSNs through a taxonomy which delineates the spectrum of attributes that relate to these systems. It also presents an overall reference system architecture that aims at capturing the building blocks of prominent OSNs. Additionally, it provides a state-of-the-art survey of popular OSN systems, examining their architectural designs and business models. Finally, the chapter explores the future trends of OSN systems, presents significant research challenges and discusses their societal and business impact. © 2011 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
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