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A Call For an Open, Distributed Alternative To Facebook 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the privacy-revolution dept.
qwerty8ytrewq writes "Ryan Singel, writing for Wired, claims that Facebook has gone rogue: 'Facebook used to be a place to share photos and thoughts with friends and family and maybe play a few stupid games that let you pretend you were a mafia don or a homesteader. It became a very useful way to connect with your friends, long-lost friends and family members. ... And Facebook realized it owned the network. Then Facebook decided to turn "your" profile page into your identity online — figuring, rightly, that there’s money and power in being the place where people define themselves. But to do that, the folks at Facebook had to make sure that the information you give it was public.' Singel goes on to call for an open, distributed alternative. 'Facebook’s basic functions can be turned into protocols, and a whole set of interoperating software and services can flourish. Think of being able to buy your own domain name and use simple software such as Posterous to build a profile page in the style of your liking.' Can Slashdotters predict where social networking is going? And how?" Relatedly, jamie points out a graphical representation of how Facebook's privacy settings have changed over the last five years.
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A Call For an Open, Distributed Alternative To Facebook

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:20AM (#32146390)

    With this so-called "World Wide Web", you can create your own web page, showing exactly the information you wish to reveal about yourself. You can show a profile picture, your name, your location, your birthday, your likes and interests, any pictures you want to share, any movies you want to share, and so forth. You can even change the appearance of it to suit your own tastes!

    You can use something called a guestbook that'll allow other people to leave messages for you, and you can use other people's guestbooks to leave messages for them.

    It's not related to the World Wide Web, but you can use something called "e-mail" to send a private message to a specific recipient, and they can even reply back to you!

    Maybe this "World Wide Web" technology will catch on some day.

    • by blai (1380673) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:02AM (#32146654)
      so how will you be controlling who sees what, unless you're planning to make everybody register on your site, which doesn't really work anyway?
      • by pushf popf (741049) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @12:01PM (#32147478)
        so how will you be controlling who sees what, unless you're planning to make everybody register on your site, which doesn't really work anyway?

        You can never control "who sees what."

        If something is private, keep it off the net.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by atrizzah (532135)
          Well, you could keep it private, if the organization that runs this website provided you with privacy options and acted in a trustworthy and ethical way to maintain these options. Apparently this is a big problem though
    • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:37AM (#32146868)
      Centralized, proprietary services are gradually displacing standards on the web - web boards over usenet, twitter over IRC, gmail over email, hulu and youtube over (innumerable generations of filesharing protocols from ftp to bittorrent).

      And on a larger scale, we have highly proprietary mobile devices (foremost Apple) displacing PCs altogether.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        How exactly are web boards more centralized and proprietary than IRC? There's plenty of servers and OSS implementations of them, like PHPBB.
        And how is GMail a substitute for email? It's a closed email server, like others exist for at least 15 years.

        If you're talking about IM in Gmail, then you're talking bollocks because it's based on XMPP, a standard, and many OSS clients can talk to the servers or you can even host your own.

        As for Youtube/Hulu, try watching streaming video over bittorrent. It's not even t

      • HTTP is still all the rage. GMail is still email. Twitter is not an IRC replacement. Youtube is also not an FTP replacement. Web boards are starting to get aged themselves.
    • ..for me and I never really understood this bitching about privacy - if I post something (on facebook or pretty much anywhere on the internet) I expect that it is public. If it's posted to "friends only" it's still public. Honestly, if you have a secret and tell it to your 100-200 or so "friends", is it reasonable to expect that no one else will hear it? No, there are only two levels: "private" (don't post) and public. The misstake of facebook was to pretend otherwise, so now people seem to think they have
      • by Yaa 101 (664725) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @11:21AM (#32147158) Journal

        The problem is not you, even if you never posted on Facebook you friends can spoil your privacy a great deal here, especially if they do not see the implications of their actions.

        That is the big problem with Facebook.

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @11:47AM (#32147360) Homepage Journal

        There's a difference between your freind telling another freind about something "private", and a corporation mining the same data, then selling it. And, in effect, that is what Facebook and their developers are doing. For profit snooping vs regular blabber mouth snooping. Pretty much the same difference between profesion software pirates who burn thousands of copies for distribution, and the private home user who downloads a pirated copy of MS Office. Even Microsoft understands the difference between those two pirates.

      • For me, I understand everyone's bitching about privacy. I want to be able to catch up with friends, shares photos of recent events, etc. I even have different friends lists so that new friends, acquaintances, etc can't see all my information. So when someone goes to this level to restrict their data, there's a certain expectation of privacy inherent.

        It's not about keeping secrets, it's people taking information out of context and potentially using it against you. The person that has 90% of their phot
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by novium (1680776)
        Facebook got people to trust it with their real identities with some fairly robust privacy controls, so stripping those out now is a legitimate cause for concern. Additionally, there is a difference, a very important difference, between having something be out there, and having something *broadcast*. Privacy should not and does not require secrecy. I may tell a friend (in RL or on Facebook) that I'm going down to the beach today. I may not mind if other people overhear, or if my friend tells someone, but i
      • by Phurge (1112105)
        choose your "friends" wisely?

        not that I have any at moment, being on /. and all, but in the future I hope that I can share that I'm posting this from mom's basement... oops, did I say that?

        /. should really have basement privacy filter on it....
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LaRainette (1739938)
        The issue is while connected to facebook if you do whatever you like doing it will be registered somewhere. Example ? I connect to facebook on day 1 hour 1, I chit-chat than check my mails and close my facebook page, then I go to newegg.com or galerieslafayette.fr or any website that sells something. Day 1 hours 3 : I reconnect to facebook and what can I find as an ad on my facebook page ? the EXACT PRODUCTS I WAS CHECKING ! And they follow me every hour of every day. Every time I connect to facebook or G
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by zash.se (1342685)

      Add http://onesocialweb.org/ [onesocialweb.org] and you have status updates and privacy control too!

    • Facebook is useful because of its user base, its aggregation, and its API. Personal websites don't provide this.

      Game theory problem.
      Even if 90% of people wanted to switch to open protocols, there's no clear path from A to B.

      In that scenario, you've got four choices:
      1) Call that a tragedy and throw up your hands.
      2) Be a douche canoe and mansplain how Libertarian ideology invalidates the desires of that 90%.
      3) Call for government action.
      4) Find some way to promote private collective bargaining.

      This problem applies to a wide range of issues from DRM to ISP throttling to "developing" world exploitation.

      • by Vintermann (400722) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:24PM (#32148098) Homepage

        I had to look up "douche canoe" and "mansplain", but I'm glad I did.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Thank you for looking it up and saying that you did. It never occurred to me that I should do it. It turned out to be very funny. I appreciate it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Thanks for "mainsplaining", yourself. Actually, there are a lot more options than just those. In any of the areas you listed.

        For just one example: Somebody could create a facebook-like site that doesn't blatantly violate privacy. And actually there are some out there already. It has always mystified me why so many gravitated to Facebook anyway. Its API is no big deal, and the site doesn't really offer me anything else that 100 other sites don't. The only unusual thing it has going for it is user base, wh
    • >> You can show a profile picture, your name, your location, your birthday...
       
      ...your mother's maiden name, your Social Security Number, the name of your childhood pet, the CVD code from the back of your credit card, the dates and times you'll be out of the house, which drawer you keep your sex toys in, and other fun facts you'd like to share with your friends and family.

    • With this so-called "World Wide Web", you can create your own web page, showing exactly the information you wish to reveal about yourself.

      The value of Facebook isn't that you can publish your own information. It's that all these people are already there and easy to find.

      It's a shame that all those people spent a mod point on your post without realizing that people used to do exactly what you said.

  • What's the issue you are complaining about here? Everyone knows that everything in facebook is public, we know it from the very beginning, and it's been years that we know how evil they are. Why don't you just post content on your personal website were you can control everything? I can't see ANY of the things you do with Facebook that you wouldn't be able to do with instant messengers and a web server.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I can't see ANY of the things you do with Facebook that you wouldn't be able to do with instant messengers and a web server.

      It's called "having all your friends and many of your potential friends on the same network". You're not going to build and operate that yourself on the 486 in your mom's basement. Why not just not give facebook any private information, and use facebook?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by adosch (1397357)

      Agreed. I see no added value to even use a service like Facebook to keep in contact with friends and family. Most of the people I want to keep in contact with have my cell phone number, know my address (or e-mail) and know where I work. Out of those three things, if you want and have the ambition to keep in touch, now you have it.

      The reason Facebook has even worked so well for that is luck, popularity, publicity, hype and curiosity. And curse Ryan Singel for even proposing there should be an 'alternativ

      • by dcollins (135727)

        "Agreed. I see no added value to even use a service like Facebook to keep in contact with friends and family. Most of the people I want to keep in contact with have my cell phone number, know my address (or e-mail) and know where I work. Out of those three things, if you want and have the ambition to keep in touch, now you have it."

        I mean, honestly, Facebook's core mechanism does what it does extremely well. I just got an account in January, keep my info there very stripped-down, and even with the ill-wille

    • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:46AM (#32146554) Homepage Journal

      Just don't use facebook and stop crying

      I don't.

      Problem is, everyone else does.

      Now, far be it from me to whine about how everyone else has to conform to my preferences, but there _is_ a legitimate problem here. Nothing that facebook does is especially interesting or novel. They don't even have first mover advantage. Yet they have the "normal person" social network graph locked up.

      When one decomposes facebook into its constituent parts, one sees that each of them has equivalent or superior implementations elsewhere.

      Isn't facebook really just an aggregation of parts, parts which having a best-of-breed alternative outside facebook? Yet this is what everyone is beholden to?

      facebook reminds me a lot of classmates.com [which absorbed or was born from highschoolalumni.com].

      I spent a lot of time trying to curate my highschool "social network graph" and for all my troubles, the company kept my data and then locked me out of it with a paywall. CDDB did the same thing.

      So, fuck these companies who expect me to freely toil to build _their_ relevence, and then think they "own" my data and change their policies.

      There is no reason _we_ should submit control of our social graphs to other entities. The shape of the problem is fully federated, with every relationship being potentially asymmetrical and many to many. And when one considers the "problems" that are solved in one spot with facebook [directory, content publishing, commenting, distribution groups, photo sharing, etc], there are superior solutions already out there.

      What is needed is just a formalization of these technologies into a bag, and a variety of platforms/vendors that host an individuals online participation in this graph.

      Basically, if you have a wordpress/blogspot, a flickr/picassa, an email address/home page, you should be able to "plugin" to something that gives all the functionality of facebook.

      Yet you would be free to expire/migrate/manage your data as you see fit.

      There is already a market place for different facebook related tools. Imagine how that will expand as facebook is teased apart into its constituent parts and competing yet interoperable implementations show up.

      • AGAIN, you are talking about proprietary tools that you shouldn't be use. Why even mentioning wordpress, blogspot, flickr and picassa? What is it that you need in them? Isn't there enough open source solution to publish your content out there? Last time I had a look, there was multiple dozens of gallery, cms and blog software that you could use instead. Sharing photos? Well, can't you just send a link by email? Having a list of friends profiles? It's called "bookmarks" and it's one click away. Want to add t
        • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:25AM (#32146776) Homepage Journal

          I mentioend those out of convenience. They exist and solve their respective problems acceptably. I don't have a knee jerk opposition proprietary software and non-open-enough websites.

          The point is that _i_ want to aggregate and orchestrate the component silos into the facets of "my" online existence. If I find the policies of flickr good enough, then why NOT use flickr for my photo publishing needs?

          The key difference is that when I tire of flickr or its policies, I can migrate my data easily to some other photo publishing silo and update some pointers in my "profile" [which I fully own and control] and be done with it.

          I don't want to use Facebook to be some sort of anonymous stalker of other peoples information, yet never share or publish anything myself. THat's not a meaningful connection. Certainly anon-to-anon social connections are interesting, but only in certain circumstances. Yes for survivalists, yes for crypto researchers, yes for sabotuers.

          Sharing photos of family gatherings? Not so much.

          The basic issue is this: IMO, facebook is fundamentally a new type of paradigm for communication, like SMS, and like email, and like the long distance phone call and the postal letter before it.

          But facebook is merely an implementation of this new paradigm. What is the general case? How should it be created and adopted?

          I want to communicate with my mother in law, using a technological/communication/social paradigm similar to facebook, the website.

          I don't want facebook, the entity, to own the terms under which I do so.

        • by siride (974284)

          And yet all of these services and technologies you mention are separate things, not connected to each other, and some of them require technical know-how to set up. You might have to buy hosting, install software, etc. And that's just so that *you* can have your own page. What about all your friends? Facebook has already done the legwork of creating all of that for you, so you can just focus on the content and sharing. And Facebook has it in one place.

          Now, I really don't like the way that Facebook is tr

        • by Dunkirk (238653) *

          First, Wordpress is GPL software, so you can't lump it in with Flickr, et. al. (I just converted my personal site from a custom Rails app to Wordpress.)

          Second, what I haven't seen anyone remark about in this thread so far is RSS feeds. If people create their own sites, put whatever content and restrictions they would like on them, and then make different feeds for different groups of people, those people can aggregate what they want with a good feed reader, and everyone's happy!

          But, yeah, that's a lot more

      • by Dirtside (91468)

        I don't.

        Problem is, everyone else does.

        And yet, somehow people managed to be social back in the day before we had shared communication spaces like Facebook. If you wanted to hang out with your friends, you called them to see what they were doing and made plans.

        Until Facebook is the only way people are willing to communicate, you still have the choice of not using it. (And even then, you can still choose not to use it, because no matter how pervasive it becomes, there's still going to be a substantial number of people who don't use it. We think o

        • by bmajik (96670)

          Well, my other post goes into this, but IMO, facebook is the most popular implementation of a new communication _mode_ or paradigm, like SMS, Email, cell phones, land lines, telegraphs, and snail mail before it.

          The reason i say this is that the communication dynamics are different, and how people use it is different.

          There are still a lot of people that don't use SMS. But nobody will deny that SMS is a pervasive communication technology, and that it has different connotations than a voice call or a hand wri

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Raffaello (230287)

            Let me play the role of grumpy geezer here and provide some perspective.

            Every generation comes along and believes they are the first to feel what young people feel, first to socialize as their generation does, etc. etc., and every generation is wrong.

            This has been increasingly true. Since the early 20th c., each succeeding generation has less and less time depth (i.e., they know less and less about how life was lived a half century ago), and less real difference with their predecessors in regard to the ease

            • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:47PM (#32148266) Homepage Journal

              I think you've got it completely wrong.

              My wife talks to her parents on facebook more than she does her friends from highschool.

              The paradigm of communications and interactions on facebook are fundamentally different from the hand written letter, from the phone call, from the email, from the text message, from the face-to-face one on one, and from the hanging out in a physical space.

              People use facebook differently to communicate than they use all of those things.

              They are not looking to invent new technologies to segment themselves from prior generations. It's not like kids have STOPPED texting because of facebook.

              Compare the attributes of various communications mechanisms. Single-cast vs. Multi-cast. Real-time interactive vs. store-and-forward. Immediate feedback vs. delayed feedback. Error-correction deferred response vs. errors sent in-band. Persisted by default vs. volitile by default. Single-media vs. multi-media. Collaborative response vs. isolated response.

              Facebook has different attributes vs. a phone call, an email, an SMS, hanging out in person, etc. People use it differently.

              For instance, there is no way for a kid to use a phone to do a 1:many broadcast of 5 lines of text of how they are feeling _right now_, and to get group-visible/collaborative responses on a time-disparate basis. (well, unless their phone can update facebook -- which many can).

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Facebook is successful because they have sold young people the illusion that they are engaging in a fundamentally new form of socialization. They are not. They are hanging out with their friends just as people have done for 200,000 years or more, its just that the generational window dressing has changed.

              While you started out okay, this is just nonsense. I'm no fan of Facebook or any other new "social media" devices (I'm the kind of guy who only takes his cell phone with him when there's an actual important reason to have it), but if you want to claim that there's nothing different about new social media, you're also living with your own illusions.

              Those who claim that the means of communication (voice v. sms v. email v. blog v. etc. etc.) makes the difference are deluding themselves.

              While to some extent, I understand where you're coming from here, this is simply wrong. Cheap nationwide telephone plans in your example didn't give people the

        • And yet, somehow people managed to be social back in the day before we had shared communication spaces like Facebook. If you wanted to hang out with your friends, you called them to see what they were doing and made plans.

          But in that time no one had Facebook. Now many people expect you to have and if you don't, you'll obviously miss out some stuff; for example, someone posts an invitation to a party on FB, but they don't remember they need to call you.
          Like when everyone used the phone, you'd miss out if the

    • And that right there is why Zuckerburg will keep making millions and the answer to "Can Slashdotters predict where social networking is going?" is "no."

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Orp (6583)

      Yep. Any "open distributed alternative" will fall flat because what makes the mother of all social networking site useful, is that everybody frickin' uses it. You could delete your account in protest and start up OpenFrobnitzBook or whatever and have fun updating your status to the other pathetic losers who also deleted their facebook accounts out of protest.

      Two easy facebook rules:

      1. Tweak your privacy options to your liking
      2. Before you post, pretend your future (or current) employer is reading

      This will a

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AmberBlackCat (829689)

        2. Before you post, pretend your future (or current) employer is reading

        This will assist you in deciding whether it's a good idea to post those hilarious drunken half-naked pictures of you groping that dude dressed up in a Grimace costume.

        Those pictures would probably get me a higher rating where I work. But a decentralized social network has to happen because it's the only way to make a social network that isn't controlled by a company. The problem is the people who would make it are like the Slashdot and Linux crowds. They are completely against everything that makes a social network work. And the people who know what would make a social network work are not going to build a distributed computer network.

        The moral of this story is, if you d

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by physicsphairy (720718)

      I can't see ANY of the things you do with Facebook that you wouldn't be able to do with instant messengers and a web server.

      Have you ever tried to get your friends (I'm assuming you have non-programmer friends) to send you stuff encrypted with your PGP key? Yeah, theoretically technology gives you the possibility of ultra-secure communications, but in practice, being able to implement the technical solution doesn't get you anywhere at all.

      Likewise, there's simply no way I'm getting the several hundred people on my friends list to communicate with me by any means other than facebook. I can code up the most amazing web-interfa

  • Relax (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057)
    Facebook is not compulsory.
    • Facebook is not compulsory.

      I'm afraid you'll need to post that on Facebook so the right people will see it. Posting it here on /. is like shouting "pray" in a house of worship.

    • Re:Relax (Score:5, Informative)

      by wrook (134116) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:08AM (#32146680) Homepage

      I used to feel that way back when I was a programmer working the normal 100 hour weeks. Then I quit my job and did something else. But without the constant security blanket that was work I noticed I was missing something. I later learned it was called a social life. I talked to somebody and found out that groups of people were going to parties and meeting people, possibly even hooking up for sex (and not just looking at pictures on the internet, it seems). Anyway, I asked why I never got invited to anything like that. Well apart from my slovenly appearance of unkept hair, rolls of fat and poor fashion sense (hint: wearing the same T-shirt every day is no good even if it is a Star Wars one), I needed to be on Facebook. Despite having a perfectly good email account, it turns out that you wont get invited to parties unless they can simply include you on the event list. But even more than that, people check out your activities to make sure you are cool enough to be invited to the parties. Basically you have to pretend that you are doing something amazingly interesting and take pictures of it. It helps to have other people in the pictures too so that everyone thinks you have friends (but it's pretty easy to fake it with pictures of strangers, so don't worry about it). Oh, and don't forget to frequently update your status saying, "I'm having the best day ever!" so that people think you're always doing something interesting. Finally, even with all your friends and amazing activities, you have to appear uber-organized by having enough time to play stupid farm games and flooding everyone's screens with updates about your progress. After you do all this, you will get invited to parties and get laid (well... maybe -- it turns out that shirt thing is really serious).

      • I love that the parent is modded Informative rather than Funny. :D

      • Re:Relax (Score:5, Insightful)

        by that IT girl (864406) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:56AM (#32147008) Journal
        Oh, this rings so true. It sucks, though, having to choose between not having a social life, or having one comprised of people who really think in these terms.
      • Re:Relax (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @11:28AM (#32147190) Homepage

        Sounds like you need a better grade of friend more than you need a social network.
         
        Friends aren't about sex, or cool parties. Friends are those people who, when your father-in-law dies unexpectedly, walk out on the preps for their own Christmas party to come help you. Friends are those who read the note on the door the first couple left and call you to see if you need help. Friends are those who'll drive and hour and a half to the airport at three o'clock in the morning to pick up your wife (who was out of town on business when her father died). I'd have needed a bus just to haul those who volunteered to go pick her up!
         
        Seriously, if you're working so hard to appear 'cool' so you can be invited to parties so you have a higher chance of 'hooking up [for sex]', just hire a prostitute already. Spend the time saved getting out and having a life and finding friends who'll actually be there when it really matters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Vintermann (400722)

        Wow. It is funny, but it also explains some behavior from certain of my friends that have so far confused me, namely "Why on earth do you try to give the impression that you are a perpetually drunk skiing instructor, when I know you're in fact down to earth and quietly likeable?"

  • Diaspora (Score:5, Informative)

    by flimm (1626043) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:27AM (#32146438)
    Diaspora [joindiaspora.com] is a project that aims to be that open and distributed alternative. The four students and graduates that started it have already managed to raise $16k to work on it this summer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grimdawg (954902)

      the four students and graduates with accounts at the end of its first year will be proof that it won't work.

    • Frankly I've had the same idea that they and the article are about. It seems most natural.

      Especially with IPv6, if everyone had their own personal server that only they have write access to, which becomes their identity, their personal storage, their homepage (obviously), a place for them to put web apps that they want to access globally, including blogging and microblogging...

      Personally, I imagine having an XMPP server (with network bridges) there in order to keep IM records globally, too, whichever IM de

  • Privacy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jameson (54982) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:27AM (#32146440) Homepage

    Well, there is some work going on towards a distributed social networking protocol [seldo.com].

    Personally what I'd want would be something that involves all personal data being encrypted on the server side according to a private key that only the user has, with shared sub-information being encryped with shared sub-keys. Thus, even if the distributed social networking server is compromised, private data will remain (largely) private. Some more thought needs to be put into ensuring that it's not easy to infer the presence of shared keys, or otherwise even the encrypted data would allow an attacker to infer part of the structure of the acquaintance graph (which can then be used to infer other information).

  • Not that I'd ever be motivated to do it.. (well maybe unemployment would motivate me). The tools seem to be there RSS/XMPP/Open id etc. Someone just needs to create an implementation of the client/server (node?) that ties it altogether. Opera's Unite looks like a promising start.
    • Opera Unite that is what I was thinking. But then people complain about how it's SO unsafe to share information from your own computer and they would never open up access like that. So which do they want? Share data from their PC and be paranoid people are going to hack their system or share their data through the evil 'facebooks' and 'googles' out there?
    • Unite only works when your PC is on. Imagine only being able to access their Facebook profile/pictures when they're online. Assured failure.

  • I can last about a week before I get really annoyed and shut it down. I've even tried multiple personalities. It all really ticks me off...I hate constantly having to confront their obfuscation and find no end to their "Bait and Click" corporate scum baggery. Its totally Zucks, if you know what I mean. I have not been back for three months now, since before they enacted recent changes that essentially put it all social data on the bathroom wall for all of eternity. Death won't be any excuse for them to stop marketing your data, since they never really cared if you live or die or even have a life. They sell your profile, whether or not you actually exist is irrelevant. Take it from all four of me.

  • by MessyBlob (1191033) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:35AM (#32146494)
    Here's a question: Can any diffusely-owned project or data be trusted? Does it require that all members of the project or support infrastructure are also trusted, or must there be a certificate-based identity/trust system to unlock the data on various levels?
  • already happening (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miruku (642921) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:42AM (#32146524) Homepage

    a suite of protocols and formats have been developed over the years to achieve this. look for the Data Portability movement for one or the largest groupings of like minded folk, although the dev action is fairly distributed.

    the current two interesting things to watch is the development of OAuth 2, for distributed apps, which will help with the sharing of the various open standards of profile information and the like, and the Google Buzz method of using Salmon and PubSubHubbub to aggregate comments to an article.

    i'm looking forward to being able to connect WordPress, Drupal, etc, sites together to aggregate community content.

  • Think of being able to buy your own domain name and use simple software such as Posterous to build a profile page in the style of your liking.

    You mean like a personal website? And forget the Posterous.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:46AM (#32146552) Homepage Journal

    Personal websites are dead, long live Geocities!
    ...

    Geocities is dead, long live MySpace!
    ...

    MySpace is dead, long live Facebook!
    ...

    Facebook is dead, long live personal websites!

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:54AM (#32146592)
    I totally agree with replacing Facebook with a new, open alternative that respects privacy. And we can start by removing the "Like" button from TFA.
  • Just nationalize it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gig (78408) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:57AM (#32146616)

    The problem is, they have something that's non-commercial, so to make it commercial, they keep selling their users out. It would be better to just have the government buy it and turn it into facebook.org with the privacy settings as they were in 2005.

    • It would be better to just have the government buy it and turn it into facebook.org with the privacy settings as they were in 2005.

      Facebook would have to go bankrupt first. The government only buys bankrupt companies.

      Now that's a real brilliant investment strategy.

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      Yeah, that will work great given how much governments respects privacy. Presumably we'll get a "add this person to the terrorist watchlist" button right on each US profile?

    • by hodet (620484)
      Um no. If government bought it that would surely be its death. Technology changes too quickly and government moves too slow. Something else will come along, do it better, and everyone will abandon it. Then we will all own a multibillion dollar website which has become worthless.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jer (18391)

      Government buy it? Why? Is there some compelling reason that Facebook needs to exist? It's not like a loss of Facebook would cause massive unemployment or be a giant hit to the economy. (Hell, losing Facebook might actually lead to productivity GAINS for the economy overall.)

      Better to have the government pass a law that says "you know those licenses you click on that say 'we can change the terms any time we feel like it'? Yeah - those are invalid. Stop doing it or you open yourself up to a lawsuit. Y

  • by alexandre (53) * on Sunday May 09, 2010 @09:57AM (#32146622) Homepage Journal

    We need to have a project that aims to unite all the privacy projects out there to make something good come out of it, using the power of the crowd with free software in a privacy respecting matter but in a much more powerful way that can actually serve people...

    Here are some projects or ideas that deserves to be noticed:

    An openID with privacy features:
    http://openprivacy.org/ [openprivacy.org]

    P2P social networks / research:
    http://www.movim.eu/ [movim.eu]
    http://www.peerson.net/ [peerson.net]

    P2P search:
    http://yacy.net/ [yacy.net]

    P2P SIP:
    http://www.blyon.com/blog/index.php/2009/06/22/p2p-sip-uri-dialing/ [blyon.com]

    Encryption:
    http://code.google.com/p/cryptsetup/ [google.com]

    P2P encrypted networks:
    http://www.i2p2.de/ [i2p2.de]
    http://freenetproject.org/ [freenetproject.org]

    Augmented reality / group mapping:
    http://www.openillusionist.org.uk/documentation/doku.php?id=site:home [openillusionist.org.uk]
    http://www.biomapping.net/ [biomapping.net]

    Mesh:
    http://robin-mesh.wik.is/ [robin-mesh.wik.is]

    I envision a setup where our cell phones or little home servers (open ones, like the n900 or better) can connect to each other via mesh, have open social infrastrcture running on them routed over an I2P layer so nobody knows who is talking to who and you have total control as to who/when/what is seen by your peers.

    These setup have cameras that can use such network to create massive collaborative networks to document a situation or location. Be it a manifestation where you relay real time camera from all angles with sound level maps and other sensors to augmented reality group interaction and other crazy ideas.

    This is more broad that what is discussed here as it touches all OSI layers and ask for a shift toward a p2p infrastructure at all level respecting and working for the user and independance from middle man as much as we can.
    Of course a distributed DNS might have to be worked on too. I think these research are fundamental to the survival of freedom online as we knew it ...

  • I think it would be hard to do something completely open sourced that also had very strong privacy built in. Some sort of distributed Shamir Sharing coming to mind... As for Facebook people will vote with their feet or not..

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:12AM (#32146700)

    The essence of a social networking site is that it is social - a gathering place that draws a critical mass of users.

    Most like that sense of connection - and almost none of them are geeks.

    "Think of being able to buy your own domain name... Broadcast{ing to) your micro-blogging service of choice."

    They aren't thinking that at all.
       

  • HelloWorld from YEARS ago was a distributed social networking system. Its a shame that it never took off.

    http://www.cooperatingsystems.com/index.htm [cooperatingsystems.com]

    Helloworld was way ahead of its time ...

  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:22AM (#32146764) Homepage

    The value of a social network is proportional to the number of members it has. Facebook started in 2004 aimed at students, grew for a while, and in 2006 opened membership to everyone. It was two years after that (and two years ago) when Facebook exceeded Myspace [alexa.com], and it's just been pulling ahead since. It's now blown away any previous social network scale now. If you started tomorrow with a compelling site people might use instead of Facebook--the same way that Facebook was a compelling improvement over Myspace--best case it would be two years before you'd even have a shot of being popular enough to be considered a viable alternative here. The unfortunate reality here is that making this sort of site available to most people for free costs somebody money, and that will never go on forever without somebody trying to make a buck. Social networks trying to expand are practically forced into it just to pay for their overhead as popularity increases.

    As for the privacy issues, I never told Facebook anything private in the first place; anybody who did is a fool. I didn't care that they were throwing ads in my face that were obviously targeted to interests I listed in my profile to make ad dollars; expected that, all part of getting the site for free, and things like my music/movie likes are quite public information already. But last week when I visited cnn.com to read a news story, and it magically showed me what news stories my Facebook friends had been looking at (and presumably exposing what I was doing to them), that was the point where I felt myself that Facebook had gone rogue. Time to use UnFuck Facebook [userscripts.org] and crank up the rest of my hostile site defenses now. Facebook I'm now treating like a link that might lead to p0rn: I might still go there if because it's fun sometimes to look at, but I won't be adding to their ad income and I expect the site to be hostile. And I'll go out of my way to avoid all the sites they're selling my info to as well.

  • Folks seem to be forgetting that a (mostly) open source alternative already exists - Live Journal [livejournal.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think Wave (if its ever finished and working well) could form the backbone of this. Since anyone can run their own wave server, and wave servers can talk to each other, you pretty much have all you need for this, which is, a robust way to post and share information in real-time with specific, securely authenticated people. However, what people don't realize is that Facebook is hosting untold petabytes of peoples photos and videos, even if you have only an average number of friends posting an average num
  • by janwedekind (778872) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:44AM (#32146920) Homepage

    ISOC-NY Event: Eben Moglen ‘Freedom in the Cloud’ – 2/5/2010 [isoc-ny.org]. ISOC-NY afterward created a provisional page on their Wiki about a Freedom Box [isoc-ny.org].

  • And what will prevent that entity from doing the same thing?

    The only thing that makes sense is not to put anything private in a public forum, and to regard Facebook as a public forum.

    If people aren't doing that already, then no amount of software cleverness can help them.

  • Somewhat on topic (Score:3, Informative)

    by AbRASiON (589899) * on Sunday May 09, 2010 @10:55AM (#32147002) Journal

    I have my facebook settings absoloutely locked down as tight as it will allow me yet *they* continue to change what is defined as private or not.
    The recent big change (2 or 3 months ago?) which got a lot of media attention, their changes 'accidentally' flagged everyones stuff as insecure again and we all had to re-secure it. (No I'm not being paranoid, it literally went from 'friends only' visibility on some items to 'everyone')

    Furthermore, friends of friends can see and or add me now, infact they are prompted to add me and I'm constantly having to ignore unwanted friend requests.
    What really bothers me though is this facebook connect business, I've never signed up for it or used it but I recently watched a Starcraft 2 match and it had my full name on the website, I don't know the technical term but my facebook cookie I'm guessing was imported by livestream, just like that - I literally clicked nothing to allow it to identify me.
    Apparently gawker does this same thing.

    This is where they are starting to really push my envelope of tolerance. I don't have much to hide particularly but these people are starting to get downright nasty and I am beggining to feel potentially violated here. I'm not normally one of those 'must be secure!!!' types but this could be abused, how long until my entire profile is public? How long before a potential employer googles up a picture of me at a party or something with a beer in my hand acting like a tool ironically and they mistake it for being genuine behaviour?

    I'm not at the point of closing my account but I've got to say, for the first time it's actually crossed my mind. Why are these people deliberately destroying themselves? If you want to exploit stupid people, go ahead but for goodness sakes please let the smart user lock their stuff down.

    • by AbRASiON (589899) *

      Ooops I missed: It was livestream.com - it instantly knew who I was when I went to the stream I was linked to.

  • by Bodhammer (559311) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @11:21AM (#32147160)
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=16929680703 [facebook.com] Be warned, you need to delete all your content too. P.
  • We need to make somethings for the regular users to use. I like the idea of all content encrypted and give friends half your key. Of course, it'll need some pretty UI. A standard like that would mean it would mean the publisher and subscriber could be on different websites without any problem. Anybody could implement/host a site like that and get ad revenue.

  • Take a look at http://www.joindiaspora.com/ [joindiaspora.com] .

  • by elnyka (803306) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:24PM (#32148108) Homepage

    Facebook used to be a place to share photos and thoughts with friends and family and maybe play a few stupid games that let you pretend you were a mafia don or a homesteader.

    Used to? What, it no longer serves that function?

    It became a very useful way to connect with your friends, long-lost friends and family members.

    And still is.

    And Facebook realized it owned the network.

    ZOMG1!!! I think there is a very strong possibility that Facebook *knew* they owned the thing that runs on their f* infrastructure. Maybe that was part of their business model from day one. Crazy I know!!!

    Even crazier to think they just realized that fact </facepalm>

    Then Facebook decided to turn "your" profile page into your identity online — figuring, rightly, that there’s money and power in being the place where people define themselves.

    See above.

    Think of being able to buy your own domain name and use simple software such as Posterous to build a profile page in the style of your liking.

    Yeah, I can see the typical Facebook user (or the typical consumer of web-based information and publication in general) doing just that. This is what happens when geeks project their own experience and worries onto others, thinking others do as they do, and most importantly, care or worry about the same shit they do. They don't.

    If such a proposal ever takes place, all it would do is facilitate the creation of new "facebooks" that will wither and die over time. Eventually people will conglomerate to specific venues with functionality and ethos that appeal to them, run not by a collective of selfless enthusiast but by people who put the time and money to make it happen (and that won't happen just out of charity.)

    Talking about missing the entire point of human communication.

  • by schlick (73861) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @04:22PM (#32149080)
    This is what Eben Moglen calls for in his lecture about freedom in the cloud http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOEMv0S8AcA [youtube.com]

Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine

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