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Fed up with Facebook? Ticked at Twitter? Diaspora* is up and running!

radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Diaspora*, the free software based, privacy aware decentralized social networking service is up and running in "Alpha testing" mode.

Read more here.

Comments?

 


Comments

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Interesting. I'm a gone check it out.


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

The only thing that really ticks me off about FB is that their games are slow to load. All that other stuff - like the ticker feed - I basically ignore.  The new FB - called "Facebook Timeline" - debuts next month I think. I'll withhold judgdement until I actually get to use for it for a few days.

 

ETA: On principle there are problems to be had with FB simply because it's so in support of the establishment and capitalism. And things like 'data mining' ought to be of huge concern as well.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

If you want to learn more about the problems with internet privacy (or lack thereof), you should listen to Eben Moglen's presentation to the Internet Society of New York from February, 2010.   This is the presentation which inspired both Diaspora* and the Freedom Box Project.

This is the shortened version (8 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoMefqcR4fo

 

This is full version: (57 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOEMv0S8AcA

and the Q&A (58 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpHWnHxmnXg

 


Lachine Scot
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Joined: Jun 19 2010

Ah, I've  been hearing about Diaspora* for a while.  It seems like such great progress from commercial-minded stuff like Facebook.  Even the name is more sophisticated! I wonder what it will look like in a while--will it remain a sort of niche for certain kinds of people, like tumblr or livejournal? Or will it become popular across many types of people, like twitter?


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

I read today that FB has 800 million subscribers. Unreal.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

I saw some number that Diaspora* has just passed the 100,000 user mark...yes pretty small, but it's still in "alpha testing" and most folks don't know about it yet.

Diapora* is fundamentally different from the other services you mention.   There is no central server at all.   The folks who set it up don't control it.

Don't think "client/server" the way you would on corporate social networking sites, but think "peer to peer" server...all servers being equal and talking to each other.   Anyone can set up a "pod" server...and I mean anyone.  You could set one up for yourself, your family and friends, a union, an organization or a company could set one up.  Even rabble could set one up!   The idea is to put your data up on a pod server that you trust.  You might only trust a pod server that you operate yourself.   That's okay!

If you are competent enough...or know someone who is competent enough at setting up a GNU/Linux web server, then you should be able to setup a Diaspora* pod server. 

When it's finished, Diaspora* will allow you to connect across various social networking sites.   Right now, you can post to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr from within Diaspora*...although you can't get feeds from them yet.

So there are a couple of dozen "open" community servers that you can sign on to.  Best way to find out about it is to sign on and start playing with it...and invite your friends too!


Unclefred
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Joined: Jun 14 2011

It's suspicious as far as I'm concerned.  If someone wants to connect with me, they just have to email, or go to my figure skating bulletin board.


Sven
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Joined: Jul 22 2005

I don't use Twitter but I do have a FB account.

So, relative to FB, radiorahim, and from an average user's perspective, what are the three biggest benefits to Diaspora* versus FB?


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

Sven wrote:

I don't use Twitter but I do have a FB account.

So, relative to FB, radiorahim, and from an average user's perspective, what are the three biggest benefits to Diaspora* versus FB?

Speaking for myself, I'd say the main benefits are privacy and ethical ones.


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

One of the things that pisses me off about FB is that I'm typing a comment, and the page updates on its own and I lose whatever I was typing. I'm on dialup, and loading a page takes forever - sometimes I'm typing away not realizing that the page is still loading. FB can be a pain in the ass sometimes.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Privacy is the obvious one.  You can be as private as you want or as public as you want.  

Decentralization and no corporate control is another one.   There is no big corporation that is logging all of your activities and using that information to sell to advertisers.    Corporate controlled social networks are not "social networks".   They're data mining corporations.  

We give the data miners our personal information, they give us a little bit of free web hosting and they spy on us 24/7.

Free "as in freedom" software is important too.   Anyone can modify or change the software to improve it and extend it.

Also, you have the freedom to be anonymous if you want.  You aren't required to use your real name.

Anyway Sven, read the original post and watch the videos of Eben Moglen when you have the time.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

"Europe vs. Facebook" is an interesting site that looks at the kinds of personal data that Facebook collects on users and aggregates alot of the press that Facebook has been generating in Europe lately on lack of privacy for users.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Interesting, RR. But have you tried the link below, and does it work - i.e. does it provide the same data that this more formal request would do?

How can I download my information from Facebook?

PS: I've followed the latter, and am waiting for my confirmation email to arrive saying they've archived my stuff and are ready to deliver.

ETA: Ok, it packed up a 86 MB zip file, seems to include my photos, videos, status updates - apparently they don't send my comments on other people's posts.

 


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

 

Facebook Tracks Your Every Move

http://www.naturalnews.com/033713_Facebook_tracking.html

"...Facebook now monitors your online activity even when you are not logged in to the service. With each new change Facebook makes, users' privacy becomes a little less...nonexistent if you will..."


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

In fairness, NDPP, it should be noted that the techie who discovered this has posted an update about his discussions with Facebook and their efforts to explain and correct the issue. He concludes:

Quote:

Facebook has changed as much as they can change with the logout issue. They want to retain the ability to track browsers after logout for safety and spam purposes, and they want to be able to log page requests for performance reasons etc. I would still recommend that users clear cookies or use a separate browser, though. I believe Facebook when they describe what these cookies are used for, but that is not a reason to be complacent on privacy issues and to take initiative in remaining safe.

I discovered a lot of other issues and interesting areas ripe for further investigation while researching the cookie logout issue - and I will be taking each one of them up on the blog here in the near future.

I must thank Gregg Stefancik, an engineer at Facebook who reached out (and also left the 'official' Facebook response as a comment on the previous post) and who worked with us on this issue. Thank you as well to other Facebook engineers who reached out. On my end Ashkan Soltani and Brian Kennish (author of the excellent disconnect browser plugins that every user should be running) were invaluable with providing tests, advice and additional sets of eyes.

 


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Haven't tried the formal link but have tried the other one...no luck with it yet.   Keep seeing the "pending" notification.   Although I do know of others who've successfully downloaded their info.

I understand that lately FB has been overloaded by requests for personal data over the last few days so that could be it.

I understand that if you want to quit FB that you have to go through their account shutdown routine, then have absolutely no contact with the account at all for a period of 14 days and then it'll shut down.

On Diaspora* the process is quite simple.   Click a button to download your data from whatever pod server your on and it's done instantly.   Click another button to close your account and then it's closed.

One of the other benefits of Diaspora* that I forgot to mention in my original blogpost was that you can use a "handle" there just as you can here on babble.   With FB and Google+ you are expected to use your real name...and Google+ deleted a whole bunch of accounts where they thought someone wasn't using their real name.

Also, nobody is going to kick you off of Diaspora* if you're using it to try to organize a union.  You can use it to organize whatever the hell you want to organize.

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Hey RR, question:

In the Diaspora signup procedure, they ask this as an option:

Quote:

Connect to your other social networks

Connecting to services will allow you to publish out to these services. With Facebook, you also be able to find friends already on Diaspora and invite others.

Should I say "yes" or "no" to connect to Facebook? Or would that only allow a one-way transfer of FB data to Diaspora? As a rule I always click "no" to anything that asks permission to use my FB data.

 


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Unionist, that decision is up to you.

If you say yes, you'll be able to do a couple of things...namely post stuff on Facebook from Diaspora*.   The other more immediate thing is that it makes it easy for you to send Diaspora* invites to your Facebook friends so that you'll have some folks on Diaspora* to chat with.   I've allowed it on mine.   On the other hand, you just might find that some folks are willing to sign up for Diaspora* that aren't on FB :)

Down the road you'll be able to actually see your FB feed from Diaspora*.   The development team is still working on that feature.

 

One thing to remember when you're inviting folks to join is to tell them that Diaspora* is still "alpha testing" and so it's a work in progress.   They should very much expect it to be a little on the buggy side right now...but the way to make it unbuggy is for folks to use it. :)


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

When we started Diaspora two years ago, the project kicked off with amazing reception and support from people that believed in our ultimate goal: giving users ownership over their data. It’s a powerful idea, one that captured the imaginations of millions of people across the world. This vision has expanded and evolved over the past two years that we have been working on it as the project has grown.

Diaspora* began when we were still at NYU – just four guys trying to scratch our own itch. We had an idea about how social networks could work in a new and exciting way. We intended to be done over the course of a summer, and with an expected budget of $10,000 from our Kickstarter campaign. The reception of this idea was so good that we managed to reach 20 times the expected amount in donations, and the project expanded to cover far more than just a summer. It’s been over two years now, and we are proud of what Diaspora has become.

Today, the network has grown into thousands of people using our software in hundreds of installations across the web. There are hundreds of pods that have been created by community members, and it has become one of the biggest Github projects to date. It has been translated to almost fifty languages, with hundreds of developers worldwide contributing back to the project.

Diaspora has grown into something more than just a project four guys started in their office at school. It is bigger than any one of us, the money we raised, or the code we have written. It has developed into something that people all over the world care about and are inspired by. We think the time is right to reflect this reality, and put our code where our hearts lie.

Today, we are giving control of Diaspora to the community.

 


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

This is great news!   It shows that the project has matured into something much bigger than the four NYU students who started it all.

It looks like it will evolve into something like "The Document Foundation" which oversees the Libre Office project...or the "Freedom Box Foundation" which oversees the Freedom Box project.


Left Turn
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Joined: Mar 28 2005

Diaspora sounds like a great idea, and I joined it back in the spring, only to  find to my disappointment that precisely zero of my Facebook friends are on it. Doesn't do me much good if I can't use it to connect with my friends and family.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Left Turn wrote:

Diaspora sounds like a great idea, and I joined it back in the spring, only to  find to my disappointment that precisely zero of my Facebook friends are on it. Doesn't do me much good if I can't use it to connect with my friends and family.

Well they don't miraculously get on it if they've never heard of it.   The mainstream media isn't exactly in the habit of reporting on user controlled distributed social networks that aren't controlled by billionaires.    Send them an invite and ask them to join.    Hey, even kick in a few bucks to help it grow.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I found this posted on Diaspora*)


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

If anyone on here wants to join me on Diaspora* just follow this link:  

 

https://diasp.org/i/c0059bb37c0a


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

I've reduced my fb profile and content down to barebones info and family contacts.  Seriously considering ditching it entirely, as most family have my house number, and they all have phone service.  And besides...I speak with my mom at least once a week, which is often better than the daily feed, and just as graphic sometimes.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

But yeah I noticed most family members who had previously transcribed their daily lives to fb have pared back significantly to a few profile photos and minimal info.  Maybe diaspora represents a social networking option.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

I was functioning in the peer to peer server world, which is vastly superior in terms of user interface, control and privacy...starting about 13 years ago with the release of a FPS game from Novalogic.  A handful of diehards of the particular game we were using from that era still operate servers all over the world despite the fact that Novalogic eventually disbanded it's rental server option, game menu linkages, and support desk.  Mine was a 24/7 family friendly server, at least as far as FPS games go, governed for profanity by a user created application called 'judge dread,' where I'd enter all the curse words I could think of, and when they'd pop up in the chat between gamers a mod message would be sent out to stop or suffer the consequences...which at first was a punt out of the server, followed up with a ban for further abuses, according to what was already recorded in the banlog.  Later as technology progressed, ISPs would have rotating IPs which were troublesome to protect against at first, until we began to use IP wallmaster software.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Eben Moglen says that we made the web easy to read with the web browser but we didn't make the web easy to write...and thus the "thug in a hoodie" (as he refers to Mark Zuckerberg) created Facebook where the web is easy to write in exchange for 24/7 spying.

He say that the task is to make things like Facebook obsolete with federated peer to peer social networking instead of centralized corporate controlled social networking.   Diaspora* certainly is one very good effort.  Friendica is another that I've learned about.


mark_alfred
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Joined: Jan 3 2004

I use Linux, and I tried to install and run Friendica, and then Diaspora, on my computer, and I failed.  I have a static IP address with high speed, so I can run a home web server.  However, these are not easy programs to set up.

I joined the Diaspora link you gave, so I'll try it out.  I'm not a huge fan of social networking though.  It's only recently that I've activated a Facebook account to appease some of my friends.  I also did try out the test site of Friendica -- it is a better program than Diaspora, I think. 

However, I don't think there's much hope in either Diaspora or Friendica overtaking Facebook anytime soon.  Most people would not be able to set it up on their own computer (and wouldn't wish to pay extra for a static IP address to run a web server), and most people would also not be willing to pay extra to have one of these programs hosted on a remote server.  So, that leaves trusting a smaller community server or a technically efficient friend to host your social networking account.  However, most people would not wish to trust their life's memories to a smaller server due to the worry of the server going belly-up and disappearing.  Losing precious baby, kitten, family, and friend memorabilia to a vanished server would piss people off.  So in that regard, bigger would be seen as more secure.

While I worry about stuff with Facebook regarding user's information being a commodity to be sold for big business, I think the reality (as is being borne out in the declining market value of Facebook) is that the value of such a mass of information really is not as high as people first imagined.  It is turning out to not be the great market research tool of value that some people initially assumed it was going to be.  I think that the end of Facebook will not be due to a collection of smaller servers running a clone of it in pods (IE, Diaspora or Friendica) but rather it simply withering away and dying like AOL did.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Setting up web servers of any kind at home isn't easy...let alone setting up a social networking web server.   That's why the faux corporate social networking services (really data mining businesses) have had such a good run in recent years.

As Eben Moglen says frequently these days, the web browser made the web easy to read but not easy to write.

That's the challenge for the free software community.    Make the web easy to write.

The Freedom Box Project, which is still in very early stages aims to do exactly that.   They're creating the software that will allow everyone to have cheap portable "plug servers" that can store and encrypt all of your personal data.   The Debian GNU/Linux community is very actively involved in developing the Freedom Box

I don't have a problem with social networking at all.    I think it's a good thing.   What I'm opposed to is corporate data mining services that pretend to be social networks.

In any case the web is only 20 years old and it's final history hasn't been written.   Fifteen years ago, most people read the web with a proprietary web browser.    Now, most people read the web with either a free software browser or  a browser that runs on a free software engine.

Writing the web without giving away your personal data to the data miners is going to get easier.

 


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