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The mobile social network (MSN) combines techniques in social science and wireless communications for mobile networking. The MSN can be considered as a system which provides a variety of data delivery services involving the social relationship among mobile users. This paper presents a comprehensive survey on the MSN specifically from the perspectives of applications, network architectures, and protocol design issues. First, major applications of the MSN are reviewed. Next, different architectures of the MSN are presented. Each of these different architectures supports different data delivery scenarios. The unique characteristics of social relationship in MSN give rise to different protocol design issues. These research issues (e.g., community detection, mobility, content distribution, content sharing protocols, and privacy) and the related approaches to address data delivery in the MSN are described. At the end, several important research directions are outlined.