A Look At The Diaspora Social Network

The Diaspora Social Network

Diaspora is an open-source alternative to Facebook (with, rather amazingly, some solid donations from Mark Zuckerberg himself!) that is currently in it's alpha stage of development.

The project rode the wave of the Facebook privacy crisis during the chafing summer of 2010, and sought to address issues such as transparency by offering an open-source framework. As the criticism and negativity regarding Facebook's privacy woes began to dim a little in the public eye, and critics began to take swipes at Diaspora's primitive framework, our budding social network began to lose some steam despite having reached almost $200k in funding.

What makes the Diaspora social network so promising and unique, is that unlike Google+ and Facebook, it is decentralized.


The term Diaspora refers to the scattering of people or cultures from their ancestral homeland. The reference is particularly apt given the decentralized framework of the platform itself.

A Decentralized Project

The Diaspora team call the project a "...privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network". The basic structural premise is as follows:

  • Instead of entrusting the entirety of your data to a corporation, users can host their own pods (servers) thereby taking full control of how their privacy is handled.
  • Think of Diaspora as a kind of p2p for social networking!
  • Giving users the ability to customize and refine their own pods (the project is open-source), come a tentative October initial release, we can expect a healthy growth of modifications and addons to start enticing users.
  • Selective privacy. Users will be able to control what gets shared with whom due to how the aspect system works (more on that later).

But Will It Work?

Despite addressing the growing concerns over centralizing private data, Diaspora has a number of ifs it needs to address, and in some cases, they are quite big ifs. Firstly, having to host your own server is expensive (and currently relatively complicated) and Internet users, thanks to services such as Google+ and Facebook have come to equate social networking with a freebie.

While for many, protecting their privacy will understandably come at a cost, I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of people will not. If the project is unable to entice a large quantity of people, people will stick with Facebook and co. simply because "hey, that's where everyone else is". I find it hard to blame them, a social network demands a large user-base.

My personal opinion is that the ongoing success of such a promising platform will depend largely on how the issue of hosting is simplified -- which leads to something of an ideological conundrum. If free hosts step-in to address these concerns, and services are offered to users to simplify establishing their new online presence, wouldn't the premise of a decentralized and corporate free platform be invalidated?

Technical Features And Aesthetics

Aesthetically speaking, Diaspora is a triumph of minimalism and strikes me immediately as the kind of social networking screen I could feast my eyes on indefinitely. Although bear in mind this is a primitive screenshot and things may change as final changes come closer to fruition.

A clean, minimal and high contrast design. Click to view full-sized image!
A clean, minimal and high contrast design. Click to view full-sized image! | Source

Diaspora's main feature list is as follows:

  1. Both private and real time sharing of photos and status messages.
  2. Other social networking integration (I foresee legal issues here, but perhaps that's because I'm inherently paranoid).
  3. A twitter style API.
  4. Spam prevention tools (finally!).
  5. Aspects: The flexibility in assigning people roles other than friends or family.
  6. Taggable photos.
  7. A behind the hood administrative interface!
  8. Third-party services integration.

For an ever-updating list of features make sure to check the official Diaspora features roadmap page.


I find Diaspora to be a dream social networking platform that I pessimistically worry will never quite find the popular footing it deserves. While I would love nothing more than seeing the Internet masses move forcefully towards this platform, it is still, as yet, a little to complex to expect a meaningful migration.

Come October, an initial candidate release may unveil some shockers, as the developers have pledged to listen attentively to the community. Only time will tell where the project goes from here, hopefully it isn't all that long.

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Comments 28 comments

somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

Certainly and interesting concept, well worth exploring further, thanx for the heads up!

jean2011 profile image

jean2011 5 years ago from Canada

Sounds like Diaspora has some great features that could give some competitive advantage. I'll be interested to learn about this some more. I have voted your hub useful.

thooghun profile image

thooghun 5 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

Thanks guys (and gals), I adore the concept as well, let's hope it pans out!

NerdyWerds profile image

NerdyWerds 5 years ago

Thanks for the write up. I've become more than a bit frustrated with Facebook and am very much looking forward to checking this baby out.

mr-burns profile image

mr-burns 5 years ago

Sounds interesting. I hadn't heard of it but I must give it a go. Thanks

singh 5 years ago

how do u sign up?

Randell G. 5 years ago


thooghun profile image

thooghun 5 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

Singh, you can sign up here: https://joindiaspora.com/

nshnpjsifihdsifnd 5 years ago


Holly 5 years ago

A death is what brought me here! This site will boom- just wait and see

wanzulfikri profile image

wanzulfikri 5 years ago from Malaysia

Will it be a payed service? I hope not

thooghun profile image

thooghun 5 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

The service itself is free Wanz

girgismcs 5 years ago

Great explanation and good work

Indonesia Essential Oils 5 years ago

It's interesting. Why do they choose diaspora as their network name?

thooghun profile image

thooghun 5 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

I attempted to answer that in the text capsule under the title definition, IEO. I find it is a good name.

carol3san profile image

carol3san 5 years ago from Hollywood Florida

Great hub. It all sounds great...hope it works.

no one 5 years ago

RIP Ilya Zhitomirskiy;you will be missed -so young and so much to offer

jaywigz311 profile image

jaywigz311 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Very interesting hub. I've always said that Facebook's days were numbered. Maybe this will be the next fad ... and then there will be another, and then another ...

jonta profile image

jonta 5 years ago from Bangkok

Thanks for sharing this.. will definitely check it out. I think that Facebook is getting to much with all its features and stuff.

melbel profile image

melbel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

Diaspora is fantastic! Thank you so much for writing this and spreading the news. It's a shame about one of the founders. Great hub and rated up for spreading something awesome that's written in Ruby (my fave programming language.)

Grace Whites profile image

Grace Whites 5 years ago from Manalapan, New Jersey, USA

A new introduction of the software diaspora social network. Thanks for the informations, you had explained it well.

CZCZCZ profile image

CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

Diaspora has been stumbling along with product development for awhile it would be interesting if it would grow into something that could rival existing networks, but the facebook juggernaut will be hard to crack.

pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 5 years ago from Whitinsville, MA

Never heard of this until now. I'll be looking forward to hearing how it develops. Hopefully more intuitive than Google Plus!

Neocotez profile image

Neocotez 5 years ago from Nigeria

I knew facebook wont be much regarded in the near future...Nice work

V for Verdanna 5 years ago

Yes there must be a viable and democratic to the Fakebook, but the real problem with Diaspora, and the uptake, is not the concept but it's name. Too many people the name suggests some water born tropical disease or a syndrome affecting special needs children. Not some easy word or term that bounces around in their head, or maks them want to be a part of. A name should shout what it is: What about CrowdSource, ClickNation, WebTribe or even OccupyTheInternet? Please, not a word that naturally goes with 'Appeal or 'Foundation.

alex 4 years ago

just read this week VILLAGE VOICE....

D user 4 years ago

As a diaspora user, the tech is good, but the userbase is similar to an emo'ed MySpace which had left me not wanting to continue beta testing. It is riddled with teenage angst and lack of intellectual persuance.

Julian 4 years ago

I was hoping the open-source community would come up with something. As for any costs, I'd be willing to pay $10 a year for a better service. At a low price like that, if you could get 500,000 people from around the world to subscribe, it'd be well on its way.

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