Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Creating a Network Like Facebook, Only Private - NYTimes.com



A few months back, four geeky college students, living on pizza in a computer lab downtown on Mercer Street, decided to build a social network that wouldn’t force people to surrender their privacy to a big business. It would take three or four months to write the code, and they would need a few thousand dollars each to live on.


They gave themselves 39 days to raise $10,000, using an online site, Kickstarter, that helps creative people find support.


It turned out that just about all they had to do was whisper their plans.




And so the backlash begins--I've been predicting for a long time that the era of "privacy is dead" wouldn't last, and the shot heard 'round the world in this case was Facebook's recent actions around privacy.


I applaud these guys for taking this on. Someone needed to and I think there will be a pretty huge uptake of this before long. Make sure and read the transcript of Eben Moglen's "Freedom in the Cloud" talk if you haven't already. Great food for thought.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

But the question is...will anybody use it? I'm not sure. Because the general non-techy public (who make up the majority of Facebook's users) don't seem to be concerned with privacy. They are either ignorant of what Facebook is doing, or they do know and they don't care. So unless the majority of their friends drop Facebook and head for more private networks like this one, they will stick with Facebook. Because the real reason they use Facebook is to connect with their friends/family. So having this more private network will not be appealing unless their friends are there first.

Matthew Woodward said...

Well sure, there will always be the chicken and egg question just as there was with the vast array of facebook-like apps that existed 5 years ago. But I think you're underestimating the incredible blowback facebook got from their "opt-out" decision with all their user's data, and the other key is this new system will be *distributed*. If I want to share my data with Facebook, I'll be able to. If not, then people can see things about me on my terms, and I can shut it off when I want.Unless facebook does a hard 180 and never pulls the crap they just did again, there will be an exodus. How mass an exodus is the only question, but it's like anything: build a better mousetrap ...

Anonymous said...

Jake has a point. I predict the project referenced here will be a flash in the pan, at best. There's already a saturation of social networks. Why add another? If you say because you want a social network that brings you warm fuzzies then good luck with that. MySpace has a better chance of ousting out Facebook than these guys.Overall, this "backlash" is being exaggerated. Facebook with all its evil deeds is still a juggernaut.http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/05/17/what-backlash-facebook-is-growing-like...The whole article is good, but check out the last line. "While tech pundits... may have killed their Facebook profiles, most people haven't."Bottom line, if you don't want something to be found or sold then don't put it out there. I just don't get how people can act like this hasn't been happening all along. See all that junk mail you get every week? That's definitely something to ponder next time you fill out a registration form and check all those boxes.

Anonymous said...

Another point to consider is the age of people using Facebook. Before Facebook, I'd argue that most social networkers were below 30 years old (and even, below 20). Those people are relatively technically savvy, so switching networks is not a big deal. But now Facebook has attracted the 30+ population, and those people hate change, especially when it comes to technology. Now that our Moms and Grandmas have put down roots in Facebook, it's going to be near impossible to pry them away from it. I can hear it now, "Mom, I have created an account on ___ network, you need to start using that instead because Facebook is exposing all of your private data." And she replies, "But why can't I just keep using Facebook? It's easier and all of my friends are there." Because as I said in my previous comment, these people don't understand nor care about the privacy risks associated with Facebook. They just want to connect with their friends, and all of their friends are on Facebook.

Matthew Woodward said...

I resent the 30+ comment. ;-) I love change.Even with all these people on Facebook, doesn't mean there's not room for an alternative. The people who don't know any better can always be taken advantage of. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Diaspora is a novel concept, but they should have checked with The Oatmeal before going through with the idea.http://theoatmeal.com/comics/websites_stopps - isn't it ironic some of us are using Facebook to log in and make comments?