W3C on social media

Note: This page used to be the home of the Social Web activity, whose work ended after successful completion of the ActivityPub W3C Recommendation of 23 January 2018. See below for earlier content.


This page is a work in progress.

W3C Social Activity

The Social Activity was home to the Social Web Working Group and Interest group between July 2014 and February 2018. The Activity is closed.

The W3C Social Activity (slogan: Standardizing the Social Web) related to the Data Activity and Security Activity.

For definitions of terms such as "social" and "activity", please see the W3C Social XG report A Standards-based, Open and Privacy-aware Social Web.

The focus of the Social Activity is on making "social" a first-class citizen of the Open Web Platform by enabling standardized protocols, APIs, and an architecture for standardized communication among Socal Web applications. These technologies are crucial for both federated social networking and the success of social business between and within the enterprise.

The Social Web Working Group is committed to the technical standardization work of the following deliverables:

The Social Interest Group focuses on messaging and co-ordination in the larger space. This work will include a use-case document, including "social business" enterprise use-cases. Their work may include the following Interest Group Note deliverables:

A significant number of existing W3C members from industry have expressed interest in this work, ranging from large enterprises to start-ups as well as non-profit and academic institutions. Interest includes existing Community Groups such as the Federated Social Web Community Group and Social Business Community Group and these groups may continue to provide important input to the new Working Group and Interest Group in the Social Activity.

The Social Activity continues liaison work with the ActivityStream community, the OpenSocial Foundation, IETF, Microformats and IndieWeb community, and well as possibly OpenID Foundation and other communities.

Context & Vision

Interoperability around social should be standardized in order to allow communication between heterogeneous Web applications that feature explicitly social features such as status updates and user profiles. Currently, APIs and protocols in this space do not allow easy transfer of social data between existing systems, as is required by many "social business" systems for both business-to-business and business-to-customer relationships. Second, the lack of a standard API prevents Web application developers from embedding social functionality from third-party sites into their Web applications easily. Lastly, many users and organizations wish to have autonomous control over their own social data while sharing it in a decentralized manner, which requires a Web-based protocol for federation.

The Social Activity has been a goal of many members of W3C. The Future of Social Networking Workshop was held in 2009 and attracted significant mobile and academic interest, and led to the creation of the Social Web Incubator that produced Towards a Standards-based, Open, and Privacy-Aware Social Web. Outcomes of this report included the more open Community Group process, since much social web work was happening outside W3C as the W3C was at the time viewed as too exclusive of grass-roots efforts like ActivityStreams and PortableContacts. This also led to further outreach, with the W3C sponsoring and helping organize the grass-roots Federated Social Web conference. However, at the time there was still not critical mass of W3C members interested in social. The W3C "Headlights" Social Taskforce was then started to discuss the topic with members and create a "block-diagram" of the space.

More and more W3C members are embracing the concept of social standards, thank to the work of the Social Business Community Group, in particular the 2011 Social Business Jam and the 2012 CTO Guide to Social Business. The Social Standards: The Future of Business workshop (August 7-8th, sponsored by IBM and the Open Mobile Alliance) developed the standards and ideas in this activity statement, see the Final Report of the workshop for more details. In particular, after the workshop the OpenSocial Foundation joined the W3C, and submitted (with other groups) the OpenSocial Activity Streams and Embedded Experience API as a Member Submission.

This work is funded in part by the European Commission through the DCENT Project, which creates privacy-aware tools and applications for direct democracy and economic empowerment.

Harry Halpin, <hhalpin@w3.org>, Social Activity Lead

Coralie Mercier, Head of W3C Marketing & Communications
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