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What Happened to the Facebook Killer? It’s Complicated

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
6th November 2012


There were high hopes for Diaspora*, a student project that got good help from crowdfunding, more than they had asked for, but what happened?

An article in MotherBoard goes to great lengths of investigation and explanation to say how come Diaspora* hasn’t killed facebook yet … “after all this time”.

The article makes it sound like facebook is, of course, here to stay and the Diaspora boys were just not realizing that they were up against a natural law:

“But while Facebook embodied a tangible opponent, Ilya and Dan and Max and Raphael were really waging a war on the history and future of technology. “Diaspora is trying to destroy the idea that one network can be totally dominant,” Rafi said. Nice guys though they were, the Diaspora boys even then carried an undeniable punk swagger, which fit their mission perfectly.”

And when Google got into the act:

“With the release of Google+ in June, Diaspora suddenly faced a new problem: irrelevance. $200,000 looks fairly insignificant next to Google’s billions. Moreover, the search giant’s new site also promised to give users more control of their data while seemingly cribbing some of Diaspora’s key features.”

“But perhaps most tellingly, Google+’s subsequent failure to make a real dent in Facebook’s empire sparked a far more dire realization. Maybe people didn’t want a Facebook Killer after all.”

But not everyone is agreeing with the news of Diaspora’s demise. Some of the commenters are saying they prefer Diaspora over facebook any day… here’s one of them:

marsiano writes:

“Interesting article touching many aspects of the story.

I’m a new Diaspora user, and feel quite comfortable with it at the moment. when I heard about the project it sounded like the realization of a wish.

I also like very much the idea launched by Friendica of a “social WordPress” and definitely will check it out, since I’m a WordPress user and I like it.

under the persistent pressure of my friends and family I tried 4 times to subscribe to facebook, and immediately got upset, deleting my account 4 times for various reasons, mainly concerning privacy settings, the uncomfortable feeling of knowing that my account could be deleted at any moment, since I don’t want to give away my real data, and also I’m very sensitive to arrogance, so I don’t like to submit – not even virtually – to some dictator’s will.

you explained very well that a lot of people choose convenience if they think it’s worth the cost in terms of freedom.

the evaluation of that cost depends on your character and on the information you have. the majority of FB users don’t suspect what it does behind their back, they don’t realize that it’s a virtual dictatorship, or don’t care, but I’m pretty confident that FB has still a great potential of upsetting them with bad decisions (that’s what happens with all dictators, sooner or later) because now FB has to report to its investors, so it will have to become way more aggressive than before. we are facing interesting events in the future.

the community who use Diaspora and alike may be a small minority, but that small minority must be stubborn like me (the ‘character’ parameter I was referring to, before).

sure, success depends on the expectations you have at the beginning of a challenge. starting a project with the expectation of being the FB killer is not a good idea. but building an alternative for those who don’t like facebook and want to be free to choose, is good indeed. and I’m so grateful with the creators of Diaspora for trying, for releasing the project as community-driven, and showing that a more democratic solution is possible.”

Personally, I believe that we have not seen the end of Diaspora yet and even if we have, there are plenty of sharp thinkers and programmers out there who would do nothing rather than build the next platform for social interaction, and who don’t think it should be a commercial offering, a business proposition. Something is bound to come out of those efforts…

You can get the whole MotherBoard article with comments at this link:

What Happened to the Facebook Killer? It’s Complicated

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