May 222010
Social Graph Platform Wars
Image by davemc500hats via Flickr

The controversy over Facebook‘s privacy policy is helping those developing alternatives to the social network.

Funding and users are flowing to services that claim to put members in charge of their personal data.

The rivals range from start-ups to more established firms working on the specifications for an ecosystem of open social networks.

Experts say Facebook may have little to worry about, despite 11,000 people pledging to quit Facebook on 31 May.

“Nobody has reached anything like critical mass in the same social platform area,” said Lee Bryant, from social technology consultancy Headshift.

“Facebook is like an entire web operating system,” he said.

Old rivals

There are already many well-established alternatives to Facebook.

Fans of the microblogging service Twitter might argue that it is poised to steal the site’s crown. It entered the world’s top 100 websites only last year, and is now sitting around tenth position globally, according to Alexa, a web information company.

But Twitter is more a micro-blogging site than a social network, where friends follow each other’s daily activities by default.

Alongside are a whole host of other early high profile innovators in social networking.

But many, including Bebo, Friendster and Myspace have seen their popularity decline in the last 24 months. None of these are still in Alexa’s global top 20.

Young upstarts

The latest round of privacy issues with Facebook has provoked considerable interest in some more embryonic social network projects.

Mr Bryant said: “Many people are looking to Diaspora as a new model – something which is standards-based, open-source and distributed.”

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