Editor's note: Check out our follow-up to this story, Did Google+ Copy Diaspora* or Vice Versa?
Diaspora*, the open-source decentralized social network that aims to be a Facebook replacement, recently launched out of private beta, despite aiming to go public by October.
"Revamped, more secure, and more fun, DIASPORA* is ready to help you share and explore the web in a whole new way," an email to Diaspora* users states. "An international movement with a shared vision for a better web, DIASPORA*'s #1 feature is its community."
Diaspora* sports some Google+ elements, such as the black bar at the top and a stream on the left-hand side with "Aspects" rather than Circles. Unlike other social networks, Diaspora* encourages people to follow hashtags rather than users, though it is possible to search for people. Similar to Google+ and Facebook, you can post publicly or with a select group of people and add your own "Aspects."
[ UPDATE: There has been some speculation regarding which company came up with the idea of Circles (Google) and Aspects (Diaspora*) first. A Google spokesperson tells LAUNCH that when they launched the Google+ Field Trial in June 2011, they did not hear any claims that they copied Diaspora* or other social networks. However, when Diaspora* first released its source code in September 2010, it included the Aspects feature. ]
When you join Diaspora*, you are asked to follow tags. In your first post, including #newhere lets others in the Diaspora* community know to give you a warm welcome. Tags include #music with 6K+ followers, #newhere with 1K+ followers and #occupy with 400+ followers, but there is currently no way to see the most popular tags.
"It's best to keep our welcoming messages personal, so we don't sound like bots," the GitHub page states. "People aren't used to being quickly welcomed by real people, and there has been some confusion as to if we friendly folks are bots or not. We can alleviate this by keeping our welcoming messages as friendly as possible."
There are 50+ community pods you can join but JoinDiaspora.com and Diasp.org are two of the largest. For every pod you join, you must create a new account. You can also host your own pod in the Diaspora* community on your own server so you control and own all of your data.
LAUNCH has contacted Diaspora* co-founders and will update this story if we receive a response.
While Diaspora* does not have a native photo service, the Cubbi.es app, which is one of the first apps for Diaspora*, lets users collect, save and share photos around the web. [ Directions on how to connect Cubbi.es are below screen shots. ]
Last week, social network Anybeat launched as a pseudonymous digital place for discussion, though is not meant to replace Facebook, unlike Diaspora*.
Back in October, PayPal froze Diaspora*'s account, which prevented the social network from raising $45K+ for a nearly one week. Shortly after PayPal froze their account, payment startup Stripe stepped in and created an account for Diaspora* to receive donations. Community pressure ultimately led to PayPal reinstating Diaspora*'s account.
Founded by Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy, who passed away earlier this month, Diaspora* first gained publicity in May 2010 when it quickly raised $200K on Kickstarter around the same time Facebook users started giving the network heat for privacy issues.
"This weekend we lost one of the brightest minds of the technology world, and one of our best friends," the Diaspora* blog states. "Ilya Zhitomirskiy was a crusader—or, as he called himself, a Dragonslayer—for freedom, privacy, and openness on the Internet. He believed in the power of technology to make the world a better place. And through the creation of Diaspora, he did."
Diaspora* is currently nominated for best social network alongside Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for the 5th annual Mashable Awards. Voting is open until Dec. 16.
Profile page on joindiaspora.com.
The sidebar features your Aspects, @Mentions and tags you're currently following.
You can filter your stream by tags you're following. The #music hashtag is followed by 6K+ people.
When posting, you can toggle which groups of people you want to share with. You can also view your stream by recently commented on or recently posted.
Describe yourself in five words using hashtags to make it easier for people with common interests to find you.
Diaspora* community pods.
Connecting your Diaspora* account with Cubbi.es authorizes the photo service to post photos to your Diaspora stream.
To use Cubbi.es, download the Chrome or Firefox extension.
To save a picture, hit shift and then click the image to save to your Cubbi.es and automatically post to Diaspora*.
In the bottom left corner, you will see a confirmation that your photos successfully saved to cubbies.
Your saved photos automatically post to Diaspora*.
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