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Privacy Worries Inspire a New Wave of Startups

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Amid the recent public backlash to the way some of the titans of the Internet handle users' personal data, a slate of ambitious online startups are aiming to squeeze into the fields of social networking and search by touting a stronger focus on privacy.

Four New York University students, for instance, set out in April to create Diaspora, an "anti-Facebook" of sorts. Their platform will aim to provide the same functionality as the popular social network, but will run on open-source software and won't depend on centralized servers, effectively giving users control of their information.

The four friends used fundraising Web site Kickstarter with the purpose of collecting $10,000 to cover their summer expenses while they program and prepare Diaspora for a fall release. To their surprise, not only did they gather the amount in less than two weeks, but also the money kept pouring in. They have now collected close to $190,000 from several thousand donors (including Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg).

Other privacy-oriented projects like Appleseed and OneSocialWeb also have been working on alternatives to Facebook since the king of social networking angered many of its users with recent changes to its privacy policies.

San Francisco Chronicle
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