Feeds

Open 'Facebook killer' survives on cash donations

Rather than by selling its users to all and sundry

Top three mobile application threats

Diaspora, the social network that sells itself as a privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook, is relying on user donations instead of advertising to get it going.

And by contrast to its other competitor, Google+, Diaspora also allows pseudonyms. The decentralised service aims to address some of the multitude of privacy and content control issues that have dogged Facebook and, arguable to a lesser extent, Google+, while still giving users the ability share content and ideas with their friends online.

Users retain the copyright of uploaded photos and the like, which is only shared among groups that users actively define, not friends-of-friends or the whole network (often the default options on Facebook).

The service was launched in November 2010 and remains in alpha. However having signed up to try the invitation-only service months ago, El Reg finally received an invitation to try it on Thursday, so things appear to be moving (albeit slowly). The emailed invitation (extract below) was nothing if not enthusiastic:

Finally – it's here

The social network you have been waiting for has arrived. Revamped, more secure, and more fun, DIASPORA* is ready to help you share and explore the web in a whole new way.

Sign up now

Last month the developers behind the software – students at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences – began soliciting donations via PayPal. Diaspora's account was frozen for a short while by the eBay-owned payments biz, without explanation, but has since been restored. The site added other donation methods, including BitCoins, following the episode.

Once signed up to Diaspora, users are immediately invited to link their Diaspora and Facebook accounts to "speed things up a bit" and "enable cross-posting".

This may help populate a profile, but we can't help thinking that linking to Facebook creates privacy concerns all by itself and runs against Diaspora's aims to make "privacy controls both clear and straightforward". You can also add links between Diaspora and Twitter accounts or import contacts from email accounts into Diaspora.

Users are invited to use #hashtags to classify posts and find people who share their interests. They are presented with a "stream" populated with all of their contacts, tags they follow, and "posts from some creative members of the community" who have apparently chosen to share comments, video clips and pictures with everyone on the network. Contents are arranged in "aspects" – friends, family, work colleagues etc – on the site.

There's a lot of help for newbies as well as the facility to ask questions. The interface is clean and well-designed, perhaps partly because there's only one application on offer, Cubbi.es, which offers a way to collate photos. There's also a messaging feature. Overall the web interface is much closer in look and feel to Twitter than Facebook.

The site is useable but still a work in progress, as its alpha designation implies. Upcoming features promised include an ability for users to export their data and to create communities.

Diaspora is based on open-source technology. Early versions of its code were riddled with all manner of security holes, so cautious progress towards a full launch - adopting the open-source ethos of quickly fixing bugs as and when they arise - may be just as well.

There's also the capacity management issues to think about: after all, it's a site run on a modest budget, partially helped by T-shirt sales, and running as a not-for-profit concern. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.