A group of students from New York University are poised to capitalize on publlic dissatisfaction with Facebook and its seeming disregard for user privacy. Venture Beat reports they have raised more than $120,000 from at least 3,000 contributors who want to back their project, Diaspora. (A quick check of their Kickstarter page on Friday revealed the numbers have jumped even higher.)
Referred to as "the anti-Facebook," Diaspora is a designed to be a "decentralized" social network that actually gives each user control of his or her own information as well as control of if or how it will be shared. The founders' core beliefs are summed up this way:
[P]rivacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually exclusive. With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our social connections, and making it easy to share on your own terms. We think we can replace today's centralized social web with a more secure and convenient decentralized network. Diaspora will be easy to use, and it will be centered on you instead of a faceless hub.
Forgive me Facebook (and Google, and all the rest), but I think Diaspora's ability to raise so much money from so many people in so little time (less than a month) may mean more people care about their privacy than your leaders are willing to admit. If users don't trust your company with their info, they won't be slow to find another network that will. Diaspora fits the bill.
Granted, as NYU teacher and researcher Finn Brunton told The New York Times:
We will have to see how widely this will be adopted by the non-nerds. But I don't know a single person in the geek demographic who is not freaked out by large social networks and cyber warehouses of information.