For online social networks, the production of trust is a crucial factor of producing professional and personal reputations. Challenges facing trust in social networks arise from: being vast, nearly anonymous, easy to join and leave. By being vast, members in online social networks often span geopolitical boundaries where formal measures of ensuring trusts are difficult to establish. Consider the following:
- Online social network interactions lack direct physical cues such as tone of voice, body language, handshakes, store façade, etc., which are often used as the first line for gauging trustworthiness in everyday physical interactions.
- Members of social networks are often anonymous and can enter and leave a community easily.
- Members often interact with strangers with whom neither they nor their friends have encountered before.
Given that there are more than a half billion people engaged in the medium of online social networking, and growing exponentially, a trust and reputation rating system is a critical factor for future success. Establishing a System Tad Hogg and Lada Adamic of HP Labs produced a white paper titled “Enhancing Reputation Mechanisms via Online Social Networks” In this report the authors state “The first approach uses an individual’s position in a social network to compute an implicit reputation without requiring explicit effort on the part of users to rate one another. This approach is useful to the extent that social connectivity correlates with likely behavior. A second approach uses ratings produced explicitly by users based on past transactions, but filters them using the social network. For example, the Sporas reputation mechanism reduces the benefit of collusion by only considering a single rating from any other person, no matter how much experience, i.e., number of transactions, they may have. More generally, one can filter based on the receiver’s preferences and position of evaluators in the social network. The Regret system uses ratings from the receiver’s social group, and the social group of the individual being rated. There are many other ways to use the social network. For example, a user may be encouraged to see a single person giving repeat business to a vendor, but only if that person and the vendor are not too close in the social network.”
What will the final system look like?
Online social networks are capable of storing complete information on members’ interactions, connections, contributions and numerous other affinities. It is within these storehouses of data that a system will emerge however privacy concerns and existing laws will make such a system slow to evolve. Today’s sophomoric systems include Linkedin’s recommendation process and Facebook’s opinion widgets aimed at giving stars and related ratings to mutual connections.
Whatever “system” emerges, and undoubtedly one will, it needs to be standardized across all networks in order to be effective and efficient to support integrity within the networks and the emergence of The Relationship Economy. One thing is certain, whatever we do and whomever we connect to or have affinities with is a point of reference data forever. If the traditional media can destroy a person with one scandalous story how fast can our own reputations be affected by the medium of social networking where we are connected to everyone and everything and news is a click away?What say you?