Diaspora is, as the title says, a decentralized social network. Their motto is “The online social world where you are in control.”
At first glance, it may seem like your average social network (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), but as it says in the screenshot above, privacy is emphasized on diaspora, which, on Facebook, it really isn’t. (You might know this if you’ve ever seen the targeted ads that constantly show up on your sidebar.)
One of the major differences with diaspora is that everyone’s data, rather than being stored on one central server, is logged on independently run servers, called “pods.” These pods exist all around the world. When you join, you register with a pod, and from that point, you can communicate with the rest of the diaspora populace.
I know it may sound like I’m advertising for them, but really, I’ve just joined, and love the idea (particularly as a privacy and decentralization advocate).
To join, you simply choose a pod that’s relevant to you, sign up, and voilà! You’re in! If you want to skip all the extra information and just join, here’s a link for you: diaspora* G3L.
More or less, the pods tend to be centered around different interests. This diagram actually explains some of the technical aspects pretty well:
When you install the Diaspora software, you form a node (or in this case, a pod), which operates a copy of the software. In turn, this becomes a personal web server. You can then host a pod on your own server, or create an account on another existing pod.
In a sense, it’s similar to Freenet, with its decentralized distributed data store model (although in my experience so far, there’s a lot less disturbing content on diaspora). Once you join and start using it, its actual interface looks like this:
Remind you of another social network? Yeah, even if its GUI is somewhat like Facebook’s, the network itself is very different. Facebook’s data, as you may know, is all housed on one central (corporate) server.
Because of the pod system, diaspora’s data isn’t (and this actually makes it less vulnerable to attack as well). In addition, you don’t have to use your real name on diaspora, as opposed to Facebook. Although I suppose you can use a fake name on Facebook, and they wouldn’t know – it’s been done before.
So, you may be wondering – does this have anything to do with the dark web? Well, diaspora operates a Tor hidden service, at http://7qzmtqy2itl7dwuu.onion, so by that reasoning, it is on the dark web!
If you’re operating a pod inside the Tor network, you can find other pods that are inside Tor. The caveat is that if you want to communicate with pods outside of Tor while yours is operating inside Tor, you won’t be able to. However, I’m basing this on some information that was posted several years ago, so this issue may have since been resolved.
Anyhow, I love the idea of diaspora, and might write future posts about it. I encourage everyone to check it out, particularly if you’re looking for a less intrusive social network that doesn’t stalk you.