The world is beginning to show more and more displeasure over the liberties being taken by Facebook when it comes to our data. Data-mining, facial recognition, targeted ads – all these things have started to make people more than just a little bit cynical when it comes joining social networks. A testament to this phenomenon of ‘Facebook-weariness’, more and more social networking sites that promise to be ‘privacy-centered’ have begun to crop up.
Take Diaspora for example. Diaspora is a distributed social networking service which allows people to set up their own “pods” (servers) – so in a sense, all the data you upload will be under your own control, rather than inside a company’s servers. These pods will be made to communicate with other pods, through which users may share their pictures, posts, and messages with their friends. Diaspora’s name alone is a direct defiance to the typical social networking sites, though it pitches itself as an ‘alternative model’ rather than a rival, and it caused quite a stir in the community back when it was first announced. In fact, there was so much hype about Diaspora that the four founders were granted donations that amounted to $200,000 in all so that they could press forward with their website’s code – much more than their initial goal of $10,000. Ironically, Mark Zuckerberg was also one of those who gave a contribution to Diaspora, saying that he thought it was a ‘cool idea’ and that he saw a little of himself in the four founders. The social networking site had its preview opening last September 2010, but as of yet, it’s still not yet open to the general public, leading many to forget about the said service. Recently, however, Diaspora sent an email to its members reminding them that Diaspora is, indeed, alive and kicking, taking credit for being the inspiration to Google+’s Circles and Facebook’s move towards better privacy settings.
Diaspora isn’t the only security-centered social network out there though. Recently UMEnow, a new social networking service, was just announced. UMEnow is basically a social network just like Facebook – but without all the ads and apps. It puts security as its priority – but at a price: $6 a month.
Another new privacy-centered social networking site called ONLYMEWORLD.com took a completely different route, basing itself on the premise that any site can be hacked no matter how secure. At ONLYMEWORLD, the users won’t be using any real names or emails. The site will embrace anonymity and take a completely different approach from that of Google+ and Facebook.
Indeed, the world of social networks seems to be getting more and more saturated by the minute. It’s difficult to imagine Facebook pushed off its pedestal, though; but it’s still nice to note that the general direction of these sites is heading towards better privacy and security controls.