New social network diaspora wants to shove security in facebook's face david novak (the gadgetgu-ycolumn.com)
New Social Network Diaspora Wants to Shove Security in Facebook's FACE
David Novak (The GadgetGUY) is a syndicated columnist who reviews and features the latest in
consumer technology. For cutting-edge information on what’s hot and what’s new in gadgets and
gizmos , The GadgetGUY has his pulse on everything related to computers, camcorders, car tech,
cameras, gaming, GPS devices, networking, TVs, software, wireless devices, media players, hi-fi, wi-
fi, cell phones, home appliances, sports science, power tools and more.
May 18, 2010
Four students from NYU’s Courant Institute are looking to take on Facebook with their security-
focused version called Disapora – a distributed, open source social network. They aim to address the
privacy concerns that has put Facebook under fire by giving users complete control of their details and
content and who they share it with. Through the use of a personal web server called a Diaspora “seed”,
users will be able to securely share information, pictures, video and more.
Diaspora will be a distributed network where separate computers connect to each other directly, instead
of relying on a central hub to relay information. Since each computer - or “seed” - is owned and hosted
by the user, they have total control over what information is shared and with whom. GPG encryption
will also ensure that no matter what kind of content is being shared, it can be done so privately and
securely. This is sure to appeal to Facebook users concerned about what Facebook does with the
personal information stored on its servers.
And making the move to Disapora won’t mean saying goodbye to all your Facebook friends because it
will aggregate content from all your existing social networking services including Facebook, Twitter
and Flickr. The Diaspora team says their software will actually make those services better as it will
allow users greater control over their data. For example, a user’s seed can be used to automatically
generate a tweet from a caption and link when uploading an image to Flickr.
The Diaspora team thinks it has hit upon a good idea and it seems they aren’t the only ones. To make
Diaspora a reality the students are raising money through the online fund-raising site, Kickstarter. Their
initial goal was to raise $10,000 in 39 days – a mark they reached in just 12 days. Currently, they're
around $125K with a couple of weeks still to go.
The students now have more than enough money to chuck in their summer internships and spend three
months totally focused on building Diaspora. Once they have produced the first solid iteration of
Diaspora they will release the code as free software for anyone who wants to use it, forever.
To see some kind of return they also plan to provide a paid turnkey hosted service along the lines of
Wordpress.com to make it easy for people who want to use Diaspora, but don’t want to deal with the
fuss of setting it up. Such users won’t be locked in though. If someone decides they want to graduate to
hosting their seed themselves they are free to do so and will be able to easily export their data and
If the level of interest and financial support Diaspora has attracted carries over to the end product, then
Facebook could well have reason to be worried. The Diaspora team plans to make the service available
a few months after the end of summer and those interested in their progress can keep up to date via