Diaspora*: A User-Controlled Social Network

Diaspora*: A User-Controlled Social Network

A new concept called Diaspora* seeks to create a safer, more informed social network that is controlled solely by its users.

Daniel Edmundson
  • 13 may 2010

Discontent with the status quo tends to sow the seeds of innovation. Greater advancements in communication, improvements in technology and increased respect and control for users have always paved the way for movements to thrive. When personal competency and well-being are especially threatened, an avalanche of new ideas can bury even the biggest ideological leaders.

With many questioning Facebook’s approach to privacy and information sharing, it was only a matter of time before alternatives began to present themselves–but no one could predict how quickly the Diaspora* concept would gain steam.

Developed by four programmers at New York University’s Courant Institute, Diaspora* seeks to provide a privacy-aware, personally controlled and distributed, open-source social network. When they began, the group (aged 19-22) gave themselves 39 days to raise $10,000 in start-up costs through Kickstarter—to date they have raised over $80,000, 19 days shy of their original deadline.

The idea behind Diaspora* is to place existing networking technologies back into the hands of their users, to let them determine the types and styles of information they want to share. The New York Times reports:

“In our real lives, we talk to each other,” he said. “We don’t need to hand our messages to a hub. What Facebook gives you as a user isn’t all that hard to do. All the little games, the little walls, the little chat, aren’t really rare things. The technology already exists.”

Diaspora* software will allow users to develop custom, personal servers, called seeds, forming a decentralized flow of data. This is a valuable commodity among an increasingly informed user base, as the New York Times explains:

“The terms of the bargain people make with social networks— you swap personal information for convenient access to their sites—have been shifting, with the companies that operate the networks collecting ever more information about their users. That information can be sold to marketers.

‘When you give up that data, you’re giving it up forever,” Mr. [Max] Salzberg [one of the Diaspora* developers] said. “The value they give us is negligible in the scale of what they are doing, and what we are giving up is all of our privacy.'”

Check out the video below to learn more about Diaspora*.


Kickstarter: Diaspora*

[via New York Times]

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