Build an alternative to Facebook

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I hope you are aware of the recent controversy over the data breach that occurred at Facebook, where the personal data accessed from Facebook by a quiz app was used by the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica to create psychographic profiles for tailoring targeted advertising and campaigning.

As the facebook clarified, the only illegal element in the issue is that the research company which developed the quiz app transferred data to CA contravening the Facebook policies. Do you know that both the company concerned and Facebook itself could have legitimately used the same user data for the same purpose of 'psychometrics-based micro-targeted' political campaigning for any of their paying clients?

And do you know that it has been happening ever since the Facebook started their business? The very business model of Facebook is based on your data: they commoditize it. They follow you around the web and track your activities. That is why you get to see an advertisement of the product you recently searched on Amazon the next time you log onto facebook.

The problem began when the internet, which was originally designed as a peer to peer network of computers changed itself to a client-server paradigm, where servers host the data of a huge number of individuals.

Diaspora is an alternative to these social networking platforms which prey on your data. It allows users to set up their own server (or "pod") to host content; pods can then interact to share status updates, photographs, and other social data. It allows users to host their data with a traditional web host, a cloud-based host, an ISP, or a friend. The framework, which is built on Ruby on Rails, is free software and can be modified and extended by external developers.

I am petitioning You, the sole decision maker in this regard, to start using Diaspora to connect with your friends. It's not easy we all know. But if you grew up in India, I bet you never imagined something like facebook coming up and replacing your cute Orkut.

Change is possible and its inevitable.

In this age of information warfare where data is the new oil, it's important to protect it.