A View from Kristina Grifantini

A Privacy-Focused Alternative to Facebook Is Revealed

Diaspora is a decentralized social network that lets users control their personal data.

  • September 20, 2010
A screenshot shows a Diaspora user’s homepage.
Credit: Diaspora

A privacy-focused rival to Facebook, called Diaspora, released its project code last week, providing a glimpse of how it will look and function. The site closely resembles Facebook, but there’s a key difference: users store and control all their own data.

Diaspora operates as a decentralized network. This means that users’ data–photos, friend lists, statuses, etc.–are hosted on their own computers, or on servers they have access to, which are called “seeds”. Diaspora lets users connect directly to other “seeds,” and choose what data they want to share, and with whom, to build their social network. Data transferred over Diaspora will be encrypted (except for photos, for now).

The project was launched in April by four NYU students who obtained around $200,000 in funding in June via the fundraising program Kickstarter.

Diaspora may just be a welcome alternative to Facebook for many people. This year Facebook made a succession of a backlash from users.

But first Diaspora will need to address some of the security flaws hackers have found in the system. The alpha release is slated for October, and is expected to include Facebook integration, allowing unhappy users to easily jump ship.

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