With the recent piracy infringement by Face-book's apps giving out information of users' and their friends, one can't help but wonder: is your online identity really safe on centralized social networking sites? Worst part is, most people are unaware and simply choose to remain ignorant of the fact that over ten million users' have been affected by this gross invasion of privacy. Now, we are not suggesting that you just close down your beloved Facebook accounts' simply because of such a calamity or that this is set to be the next 'Facebook killer'. Instead, this is an introduction to an alternative that has been looming for a while now and is starting to generate some momentum.
Diaspora, the open source, decentralized social networking platform. What does this mean? Well to put it in simple words, this basically means that you are responsible for hosting your own content and you decide who you wish to share it with. The hosting could be on a webserver that's owned or rented by you, your smartphone or you could just run it from an old PC in your basement. It was started by four guys over at NYU and they needed to get $10,000
in seed money but ended up getting a whopping $200,000 in donations including a contribution from the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.
It essentially solves a multitude of problems. Firstly, you are in charge of your content and not some 'corporation' that could use your content in a malicious or inappropriate manner. Secondly, the traditional model involves you having an account on the same hosted service as your friend
to view his details on that particular service. So if you don't have a Flickr account, you can't view their details. This resolves that problem by making a direct connection between your friend and you, thereby bypassing any hosted service and letting you listen to your friend's Last.fm playlists even if you don't have a Last.fm account. Nifty eh?
It does have its fair share of drawbacks as well, private hosting being the biggest of them all!
Diaspora is currently in its alpha stage and the developers and open source community still has many a man hour to pour into it till it becomes commercially viable. But if you really must scratch your itch of trying this new cross-platform social network, you will find all the information you need over at the Diaspora Wiki (https://github.com/diaspora/diaspora/wiki).
There are other players' operating in this same field such as OneSocialWeb and if rumors are anything to go by, then Google's next attempt (third is it?) at a social networking platform supposedly going by the name GoogleMe will probably be the next show stealers. For now, all we Facebookers can do is be patient and hope that no hacker taps into the database and steals all our lives!