Facebook Privacy Mess Prompts Nerds To Create Their Own Facebook

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In case you were wondering if the Facebook privacy policy is longer than the constitution, it’s longer than the constitution. But the constitution is, what, six The Red Badge of Courage‘s long? No? It’s only about 5,000 words? Well, that’s certainly obnoxiously long, Facebook, but not the-rest-of-my-life long and it totally makes sense for how shitty and deceptive you’ve been lately.

So we’re all familiar with the privacy-be-damned default mode that’s been creating an uproar the past few weeks. As in, profile information being made available to everyone lest you complete a Rube Goldberg Facebook puzzle where you have to click and specify basically every piece of information you wish to keep private. Isn’t there another way, internet?

It turns out that four NYU undergrads have been toiling away in an NYU computer lab working to build a Facebook alternative. In less than a month they’ve raised over $20,000 in mostly anonymous online support:

They have called their project Diaspora and intend to distribute the software free, and to make the code openly available so that other programmers can build on it. As they describe it, the Diaspora* software will let users set up their own personal servers, called seeds, create their own hubs and fully control the information they share. Mr. Sofaer says that centralized networks like Facebook are not necessary. “In our real lives, we talk to each other,” he said. “We don’t need to hand our messages to a hub. What Facebook gives you as a user isn’t all that hard to do. All the little games, the little walls, the little chat, aren’t really rare things. The technology already exists. [NYT]

This sounds great and completely necessary and where social networking is inevitably headed, but a lot of people use these sites because they’re easy. Is the guy saying that right now in the building process he’s going to have other programmers help him customize the site, or that it’s going to be the users’ job? Regardless, choice is a great thing and the rest of us that know nothing about programming or seeding will just have to catch up. Or we’ll choose to stay with Facebook. Or possibly turn down both. Either way, it’ll be nice knowing your Grandma won’t have access to your chat history.