Four students at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences want to create an alternative to current social media that lets users better control their privacy.
Diaspora is a planned personal Web server that stores information to be shared with friends securely. Instead of centralized social media, such as Facebook, the server is meant to provide a more secure, decentralized network. Some Facebook users have criticized it for lifting privacy restrictions in recent months; for example, Facebook now classifies a user’s hometown, friends, current city, and other information as public.
“We believe that privacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually exclusive,” says the team’s page on Kickstarter, a site that offers projects for outside financing. “With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our social connections, and making it easy to share on your own terms.”
According to the team’s Web site, a basic prototype of Diaspora has been developed, and the team hopes to have the project widely available by September 2010. More than 600 people have pledged to contribute to the project, for about double its $10,000 goal. The team chose to raise money because the students involved want to focus on building Diaspora instead of taking summer internships.
“Once we have made our first solid iteration, we are going to release our code as free software so everyone can make Diaspora even better,” the site reads. “$10,000 buys the software for everyone who wants to use it, forever.
“We think it can change the way people communicate and empower individuals to permanently take control of their online identities.”