Facebook killer Diaspora releases its code

17 Sep 2010

Diaspora, a New York-based social network that promises to be more transparent about its use of user data than Facebook, has begun allowing developers to access code to build apps for the new site.

Diaspora was set up by four New York University students – Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg , Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy – who complained of being frustrated by Facebook’s privacy policy. It is unclear when Diaspora will go live to the public.

The project began as a “call to arms” and the team originally asked the internet user community on the Kickstarter website to help them raise US$10,000.

Instead, they received a deluge of donations and raised more than US$200,000 to build Diaspora.

Their digital selves

“Today, we are releasing the source code for Diaspora,” its founders said on their blog. “This is now a community project and development is open to anyone with the technical expertise who shares the vision of a social network that puts users in control. From now on, we will be working closely with the community on improving and solidifying Diaspora.

“We began the summer with a list of technologies, a few bold claims, and the goal of making an intrinsically more private social network. The overwhelming response that we elicited made us realise that technology wouldn’t be enough. Even the most powerful, granular set of dropdowns and checkboxes will never give people control over where their content is going, let alone give them ownership of their digital self.

“We live our real lives in context, speaking from whatever aspect of ourselves that those around us know. Social tools should work the same way. Getting the source into the hands of developers is our first experiment in making a simple and functional tool for contextual sharing. Diaspora is in its infancy, but our initial ideas are there,” they said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years