back to article Privacy-protecting social network opens up

Diaspora, the open-source based social network touted as a privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook, has opened up for business. For now, stepping aboard the alpha-version of the decentralised service is strictly on an invitation-only basis. Although anyone can request to join the alpha test, the numbers are limited. The …


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  1. Code Monkey

    Interesting but

    I'll wait for an invite. There's little point my being on there til some of my freinds are - a bit like inventing the second telephone was a much bigger deal than the first.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Success favours the evil

    I'm all for this development; sadly it won't succeed.

    Social networks are a natural monopoly. Facebook is that natural monopoly.

    Adding privacy controls will not assist its adoption - if that was what was required for adoption then Facebook wouldn't be opening your information for the world to see. No, clearly the commercial world has found the most efficient method for greatest adoption: privacy abuse.

    1. Juan Inamillion
      Thumb Up

      @Success favours the evil

      Sir, I think you make a valid but sad point there....

    2. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Barn Door Locks, Thirsty Horses

      People bemoan the fact that the WWW was built with no mind to security. To me it's just a bit of paradigm confusion: The web was made to keep the barn door open and let thirsty horses find a place to drink. The "solution" to barn door locks and poisoned wells has always been Good Faith dealing.

      Cheer up Anon 16, there's a good living to be made writing clever obituary templates for dual career Felon-Philanthropists.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      that's what they said about alta vista, angelfire, geocities, myspace and yahoo... all it takes is time and something shinier to come along and users will leave fb like lemmings.

  3. oopsie

    Greatest adoption?

    I'd have thought that Facebook has a great enough critical mass to be more worried about revenue per user than increasing adoption - hence the privacy controls getting more and more... creative?

  4. steward

    I know a lot of open sourcers hate M$, but this is ridiculous

    I went to the alpha page using MSIE (it's the only browser allowed at the computer I'm at) and got the following message in the title bar:

    You need to use a real browser in order to use Diaspora!

    Considering that a lot of people use MSIE by choice, and a lot don't understand other browsers no matter how many times it's explained to them, I see a fast doom for any web service that doesn't support the most-used browser available.

    1. Code Monkey


      I thought OS was growing out of this foolishness. Just most projects, then.

    2. James Le Cuirot
      Gates Horns


      Which version?

    3. thesykes


      same thing here, told me I had to install Google Frame in IE, although Firefox loaded OK.

      Any website that says I have to install an add-in, activex or other 3rd party whatnot will invariably be added to the list of "can't be bothered with that" sites.

      Looking at the source for the join page, it appears to be no more than HTML and javascript, and contains some text and a single text entry box, it would seem that the Disapora developers are just wanting to make an anti-m$ statement. Bit childish, really.

    4. Brian Morrison

      You are assuming....

      ....that Diaspora wants lots of clueless users.

      I suspect that they don't at all, and making it a bit harder to use their offering will suit their purposes.

    5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Anonymous Coward


    only company that can compete with facebook is google and unfortunately their privacy policies aren't significantly better

    also, diaspora somehow needs to import fb data otherwise it wont get mass adoption

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      exporting facebook data

      It is easy to export your facebook data via the developers api

      Facebook even has it's own backup service that lets you backup all your data as html files, img files, etc. in a zip file

      Account (top right) -> Account settings -> Download your information

      learn more

      1. Anonymous Coward


        No'one except you mentioned "exporting facebook data". The OP mentioned Diaspora IMPORTING facebook data.

        Read better.

  6. Jeremy 2

    Noble perhaps...

    ...but unfortunately, it'll still fail.

    The vast, *vast* majority of Facebook users are sheep. They just don't care about privacy or security, they just want what they're used to and they'll be loathed to switch. They think that the problems they read about on the rare occasion it makes the mainstream press are things that happen to other people. Hell, even if this new site is better than Facebook and offers more with less exposure of data, people will still stick with Facebook because it's what Aunty Nora and that guy they had a crush on at school 20 years ago use.

    That and refusing to even serve the site's homepage to IE users just makes them look like a load of spotty computer nerds in their mother's basement. "You need to use a real browser"? Seriously?! A bit of testing suggests they slam the door on users of IE6, 7 and 8. What kind of a moron decided snobbishness was a good policy direction for a site that intends to try and break into a tightly monopolised market?

    And don't get me started on the name...

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Maybe, Just maybe

    ... they don't want mass adoption. Possibly they want a much smaller but better informed user base.

  8. westlake

    all too typically Geek?

    Diaspora is a word that needs to be used with some care. It comes loaded with tons of historical, religious, and cultural baggage.

    From the Wikipedia:

    "When capitalized, the Diaspora refers to the exile of the Jewish people and Jews living outside ancient or modern day Israel.

    The first recorded usage of the word diaspora in the English language was in 1876 referring to refugees of the Irish famine.

    In all cases, the term diaspora carries a sense of displacement; that is, the population so described finds itself for whatever reason separated from its national territory, and usually its people have a hope, or at least a desire, to return to their homeland at some point, if the ''homeland''still exists in any meaningful sense."

    Why a social networking site would go out of its way to alienate users of Internet Explorer is beyond me.

    World-wide, about half of all users are running IE7 or higher. IE9 is maturing into a very strong and competitive browser.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Point of Order

      " ... usually its people have a hope, or at least a desire, to return to their homeland at some point, if the ''homeland''still exists in any meaningful sense."

      Does this mean people want to return to Microsoft, or that Microsoft has meaningful sense ?

      Like the kid who told his mom "When I grow up I want to be a Musician". "It's one or the other, son. You have to decide.", she said.

    2. K T

      I lost my (e-)homeland

      The internet used to be my homeland (ah, good old days!). Then the "facebook login" brigade (the 'tards that type "facebook" into Google to get to; "youtube" for etc) took over.

      I feel displaced, separated from what used to be my territory and I have a small hope that some other geeks feel the same; so we may make our own e-homeland once again.

      Oh, the humanity!

  9. __PB__

    Real browser?

    Erm, my browser seems pretty real to me!

    The main problem with Diaspora is the name, 'Facebook' is made up of two easy to spell everyday words. It is relatively safe to assume that most users have a face and own at least one book (if Heat magazine counts as a book). So if you say to someone, 'Are you on Facebook?' they stand a chance of remembering and spelling the name.

    However, if you ask some one 'Are they on Diaspora?' they will most like not have heard the word before (unless Cheryl Cole/Tweedy used it on X-Factor last week) and stand little chance of spelling it. I'm having enough trouble spelling it myself for this post.

    Also they don't seem to own which I think dooms them to failure.

    1. Ole Juul

      Real name?

      How about Bisporus then? I think you're right. Nobody will remember. Perhaps they intend to change it in the last minute.

      Regarding the browser faux pas. Being snobbish doesn't sit well with most people - including many who don't like or use IE.

  10. heyrick Silver badge

    Is it sustainable?

    Back when I were a lad (and all that crap), world+kitten contributed to IMDb and you could download their complete data files and use them offline in a variety of ways. Now? What's this? IMDBPro? A subscription service? And where's the data download?

    Back when I were a lad (and all that crap), world+kitten used Altavista. Then along came a company with the bizarre name of Google that offered a damn quick no-nonsense ad-free and banner-free search service that blew away everything else. Now? What's this? Adverts, sponsored links, stupid instant-update results and pointless previews?

    Diaspora (not a hard word to spell) might start off with laudable aims, but if it survives the initial foolhardy "use a real browser" start, how long until its user base is sufficient that commercial options will look more and more enticing? They'll need to pay for the servers and bandwidth and tech guys somehow, and that way might just be letting some grubby little no-clue company take the reins (much as NewsCorp took MySpace and now don't know what to do with it). Certainly, as Facebook has shown, it's a lot easier to screw around and make a half hearted apology later. What assurances will Diaspora offer that, in the future, the data and/or service won't just be flogged to the most lucrative bidder, or the privacy controls continuously are arbitrarily diddled around with to the favour of popular apps that might see commercial value in exploiting said data?

    I'm not worried about today. I'm worried about tomorrow.

  11. Antti Roppola

    FOSS Social

    There are other FOSS social projects about, some of them with more mature code than Diaspora, some of them with lots of paper prototypes. I think Diaspora managed to get some high profile mentions and got a lot more notice. The attention about Diaspora has also renewed interest in projects like AppleSeed (wow, even a "noun-noun" name).

    There is no natural, inevitable social network monopoly. There's a majority social network, but we've always had niches for other social networks to exist. Rememeber that Facebook was originally just for one social group at one university. I don't know if FOSS projects will ever challenge FB, but I can see a number of circumstances in which vibrant alternate social networks will be viable. Also, these small startups won't be as restarined by the consequences of disruptive change.

    There was a good analogy drawn elsewhere about how everyone now expects that they can take their telephone number and account details to any telco they want.

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