Diaspora challenges Facebook

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diasporaFacebook has called an emergency company-wide meeting to talk about their privacy policies, after weeks of criticism of Facebook by civil liberty groups, European MEP’s and US Senators. There have been calls to relinquish the control of data and to give it back to users after the new Facebook Connect API service was rolled out. Facebook Connect enables members to log on to other services with their Facebook Identity rivalling other open source OAuth services.

With a privacy policy longer than the US constitution and with over 170 permutations, it’s not surprising that concerned netizens may be looking for an alternative. Enter Diaspora.

Diaspora, a company started by students from New York University, aims to be the open source decentralised social network of the future. A bold claim made by many in the past – so what’s the difference? For starters, the young upstarts have raised almost $10,000 in seed funds on Kickstarter – with most donations around the $20 mark; it’s fair to say that it has strong grass root support.

Diaspora believes that social networking and privacy can live hand in hand. In Diaspora’s network, everyone can install their own “seed” which can be a personal web server or other cloud-based home containing personal media eg. photos, videos and everything else. This seed is made available to other networks whilst remaining under the owner’s control.

Facebook works because of its critical mass and the lucrative revenue from serving relevant advertising. Whether Diaspora gathers enough momentum after being released remains to be seen, but Facebook better watch out.


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