A peer-based communications service is provided in which linking relationships between members and topics of interest and the properties of members and topics of interest are represented by links in a links table. Each row in the links table corresponds to a link. Each row contains an association portion and a descriptive attribute portion. Link associations are used to associate member and topic objects to each other and are used to associate a member or topic with a property of that member or topic. The descriptive attributes include privacy settings that are used to restrict access to content in the service. Members may be related to each other as friends, friends of friends, or through other relationships. The privacy settings may be used to restrict viewing of links and properties to appropriate members.