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Breaking Open Facebook With FOSS

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the get-out-of-the-silo-free dept.

The Internet 147

NewsCloud writes "Since last December, Facebook has grown from 12 to 47 million users and third-party developers have launched more than 6,000 applications with its API. While privacy advocates have been concerned about Google for the past several years, most of us are just beginning to comprehend Facebook's growing impact on who, when, what and how we connect with friends. Microsoft's recent $240 million investment in the company gives it all the capital it needs for further growth. Last August, Wired published two unusual stories describing how consumers might link together a variety of third-party services to emulate Facebook, and ultimately calling on the open-source software community to build alternatives to the service. Inspired in part by Wired, I've posted some ideas describing what would be needed for an open source architecture for social networking."

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Crap... (-1, Flamebait)

whodkne (778580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177563)

There goes my idea "a$$book.com"

Re:Crap... (0)

michaelpb (935524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177595)

For many users, there wouldn't be a noticeable difference...

Re:Crap... (1)

wizzard2k (979669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177615)

Indeed... [xkcd.com]

Screw Facebook (2, Interesting)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177585)

Man.. they got this thing that has vampries/werewolves/zombies right? And you can "bite" all your friends and such.

It sounds great! But EVERYTIME they fight eachother you get a notice of it. So I log in every morning(at work of course) to find out theres about 35 fights to go through.

Re:Screw Facebook (4, Funny)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178101)

I don't know what the hell kind of drugs you are on, but your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

6000 applications... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21177589)

and every single one drives me nuts. No, I don't want to post on your fucking SUPERWALL, be in your TOP FRIENDS list, or answer pointless quizzes.

There should be a way to turn off app requests...

Re:6000 applications... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178057)

No, I don't want to post on your fucking SUPERWALL, be in your TOP FRIENDS list, or answer pointless quizzes.
That's because you're arrogant, egotistical, and you think you're better than everyone else [slashdot.org] .

When are you going to realize, Stevie, that posting AC isn't fooling anyone? You're a troll who has nothing to contribute either to Slashdot or to the internet. Do everyone a favor, check into a homeless shelter, and get on with your life serving french fries and doing menial labor.

MOD. PARENT. DOWN.

Re:6000 applications... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178117)

Personally, I look forward to a FOSS facebook clone. It will have the fun and human warmth of LKML, the ease of use of vi, and the male-female ratio of an 18th century ship of the line. **bliss**

Re:6000 applications... (-1, Offtopic)

thanatos_x (1086171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178177)

opps. only one way to back out of an accidental mod to troll...

Re:6000 applications... (1)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178609)

There is: tell your friends you don't want any requests, and unfriend anyone who sends you one anyway.

Re:6000 applications... (2, Informative)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178877)

Its alright this is the only application worth having
Dramatic Whitespace [facebook.com]

Profile too cluttered? Try this application: the aptly-titled "Dramatic Whitespace" will fill your profile page with copious amounts of dramatic whitespace (or a swath of any color) for the viewing pleasure of yourself and others.

Re:6000 applications... (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179035)

There is an option to completely disable applications in the privacy settings. I assume that would also disable requests from applications.

Re:6000 applications... (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179065)

Hear hear.

You can disable email notification [account >> notifications] but there does not appear to be any preference for disabling those bloody app requests.

As others have said, fakebook app requests are the new Spam.

Re:6000 applications... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21179665)

Not all of them are bad. The masses just love the stupid ones, and they grow the biggest because they are so simple and viral.
The app developers who created the initial popular apps also cross-promote their other stupid apps which creates a mass of stupid apps that stand in the way of the really cool applications.
There's a lot of app developers working on apps that provide a lot of user value and facebook should work towards highlighting that with some type of score mechanism.
I created a wishlist app that allows you to aggregate products from over 40 online stores so you can create a gift registry that your friends can use for giving you gifts for christmas and/or your birthday. It certaintly provides a real value to people and they love it.
You can check it out here.
http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=5892611090 [facebook.com]

Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (4, Funny)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177617)

While privacy advocates have been concerned about Google for the past several years, most of us are just beginning to comprehend Facebook's growing impact on who, when, what and how we connect with friends.


I don't know what "us" you are talking about, but I've realized for years that Facebook has no effect on who, when, what, and how I connect with friends, and that's unlikely to change anytime in the near future.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177841)

Note: Posts like the parent? The reason it'll never work.

Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle. Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177983)

Note: Posts like the parent? The reason it'll never work.


As the author of the post, I'll disagree with that.

Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle.


Hey, I think you are misreading my comment (which was just about the sweep of the description in TFS) if you think I don't care about social networking; I've been kind of idly interested in open (both in terms of "free/open source" and in terms of "freely interconnecting) frameworks for it for a while. There's lots of pieces of a solution out their (FOAF, etc.), the problem is putting the pieces together and getting everyone on the same page (and that last part applies, separately, both to users and developers, forming a sort of chicken-and-egg problem.)

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (2, Interesting)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178061)

Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle. Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.
Don't speak for all of us. Personally i think that social networking sites are kindof neat. I use facebook all time. Its a great little time waster for when I'm dizzy from staring at consoles full of perl code all day :). On top of that, it lets me keep in light contact with my friends that are still in school.
I really think this is a generation thing. While previous generations had telephones and "little black books" we have myspace and buddy-lists. Things like facebook, or myspace aren't really that new, IMHO they're sortof an evolution of the old party lines.

That said, lumping all devs out there in with those who think that facebook/myspace are reserved for 14 year old girls is ridiculous.

And... (2, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178111)

That's a bad thing? Frankly I expect to see a lot of these communities come and go. The only thing I find a little alarming is the hype that surrounds them. If the open source community wants to jump in, great and if not, great. Frankly I don't see the difference. Maybe after the hype has died down some of these sites will have hit on something substantial that can be wrapped into the kind of utility generally provided by the developer community, but until then all I see is a series of social and commercial experiments that frankly aren't that gripping helping people find something on the net.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178171)


Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle. Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.


Having a "foundation" named after the open source project dump it because it isn't Microsoft centric enough...

          priceless!

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (1)

lexluther (529642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178357)

Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.

This is wrong as evidenced by the fact that as soon as there was a usable API there were 6000 silly applications possibly none of which earned anyone who developed them any money. They probably developed them for the same reasons OSS developers write code.

What has been consistently true is that if you give people a platform and invite them to develop on that platform a small fraction of people will do so; increasing the value of that platform.

I think the OP has a goal which is noble. I don't think there are any technological challenges to surmount with facebook (as opposed to an open source Google) as many have pointed out. The success of any OSS venture would probably have to provide a way to suck all your content out of facebook, friendster, orkut, etc . before the thing even got off the ground .

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (2, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178387)

Ah. The fact that they don't care is why no one ever wrote GAIM, Jabber, IRC, the old BBS's, Usenet, or mailing lists.

Getting them to agree on format is admittedly impossible, but it's obvious that they do, in fact, care.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178395)

Shouldn't people on this site learn how to make friends before even thinking about social networking sites?

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (2, Insightful)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178163)

I love the little tagline on facebook: "join a network to see people who live, study, or work around you". There's me thinking you could just walk outside your front door, or take a stroll around your offices or college to do that...

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (3, Funny)

garbletext (669861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178589)

then you wouldn't know whether they liked Britney spears or not, or be able to see 100 drunken photos of them before you even said hello.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179617)

Well you could... but it would take a lot more work and you would be a lot creepier.

Crap, I think this comment just put me on a watchlist somewhere.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178203)

I agree. I was a facebook user for a while, but after being kicked off (in a blatant act of censorship, as far as I can tell), I've noticed something: life without facebook is no different than life with facebook. Facebook serves a need for communicating with friends, but so does e-mail, instant messaging, and the phone. 80's-style BBS's served the same purpose, and I would say they qualify as "social networking."

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178405)

How will I ever get along without Facebook?

Just fine. I am, in fact. Facebook is supremely unimportant to me, and to most everyone I know. In fact, even the people I know who think they are 'active' on Facebook will admit that it's annoying, intrusive, and they use it less and less.

Facebook is growing, I bet, mostly due to new converts coming on faster than the jaded leave.

This will change. Buy your stock in facebook as damned soon as you can, cause it will go down in a flash. Or get bought by M$, and then it's too late.

Ugh.

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (3, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178707)

Just fine. I am, in fact. Facebook is supremely unimportant to me, and to most everyone I know. In fact, even the people I know who think they are 'active' on Facebook will admit that it's annoying, intrusive, and they use it less and less.

I'm guess you're not a college student, eh?

Re:Beginning to comprehend...what, again? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179053)

Really? I find Facebook is useful as an address book. I no longer have to ask every person I meet for IM/cell/e-mail. Other than that, it seems pretty well ignoreable.

Decentralisation (4, Informative)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177623)

I think the secret to efficient social networking is decentralization, both of content and of standards. This is achieved by the semantic web... Take a look at FOAF, it's a simple exemple of how it could work. Host a RDF/XML file anywhere describing your connections and you're done. Extend the kind of vocabulary describing your information and your relation to people at anytime using OWL.

RDF and OWL provide ways to develop a huge social networks with different features, different takes on it , with decentralized development and decentralized content while still maintaining interoperability. Support the semantic web it rocks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_Description_Framework [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Ontology_Language [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOAF_(software) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Decentralisation (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177785)

I think the secret to efficient social networking is decentralization, both of content and of standards.

Same thoughts here. But you still will not beat power laws [shirky.com] . Perhaps adding user controlled/hosted 'semi-intelligent-agents' (beyond similarity metrics) as an aid to relation building would help.

CC.

Re:Decentralisation (3, Interesting)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177929)

The point is not to actually have decentralization but rather the possibility to have it. To take an analogy think of open source projects, the point is not to fork them - on the contrary - but the ability to do so creates incentive that affect the result even though it's only one trunk.

Once a standard is accepted, there are less network effects. Think of email for example, since SMTP has such a long history it means almost anyone can have an email server. Sure gmail, yahoo mail hotmail or whatever will represent most of the traffic but it doesn't matter. Contrast this with IM... lack of interoperability creates huge network effect, the switching cost is very high because you need to coordinate with all of your contacts to switch.

If social network rely on semantic web languages, the competition between websites providing hosting / editing of information will be much more efficient than in the current system... outdated network won't die, they will just merge with the additional vocabulary from newer trendier sites. Innovative networks won't starve because they'll be able to piggy back on existing networks.

Eventually, websites will have value not by being "the biggest" or "the one where most of your friends are" but by providing the best description of your relationships with people or the most useful tools to extract the most relevant information out of your data.

Re:Decentralisation (1)

NoTheory (580275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178035)

Actually decentralization makes open social networking impossible. Social networks are inherently closed, and members opt in. Even if you can go trapezing through social networks collecting data, it is most certainly a violation of someone's privacy to copy their data without their permission to a new location, and your new tool is DOA if you have to get every member's approval to free their data. If you can't copy their data out, your new network is also screwed, because you'll have dead pointers all over the place (i.e. opening nodes from the network would be lossy).

The only conceivable way to really open social networking, is to actually open social networking, i.e. you have to make all applications allow the creation of reciprocal pointers to locations outside of the network, so that a network can reference a person without violating their privacy by duplicating their data.

Clarification (1)

NoTheory (580275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178073)

Sorry, i should be clearer. Decentralization without 100% open access to outside networks makes any effort to "free" data from proprietary networks impossible. What i describe could be considered decentralized in a sense (in that parts of a universal network would be owned by different entities), but there would have to be agreement on what sort of interface would be used for reciprocal transactions (friending across disparate pars of the network), so it would still need a centralized standards body to define the conventions that all the sub-networks would follow.

Re:Clarification Did you mean Clearasil®? (0, Offtopic)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178145)

it may be the only way to clear up Facebook and remove the acne.

Re:Decentralisation (2, Interesting)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178437)

Looks like a lot of nice theory and such, but WHERE is there a working prototype, something we can sink our teeth into, sniff, or hug?

What the thing might have or should have -- and this will hurt feelings -- is a measurement to show relationship (whatever kind it is) based on communication instances, volume, and more. Obviously, this means reading email between senders. I would not say go as far as posting the content.

But, say these "actors":

John
Vinh
Mary
Ving
Oster
Oscar
Susan
Kumiko
Davinder

KNOW each other and registered as friends. Some, but not all, communicate regularly. Some fewer communicate with a subset via various methods (poking, wall-messages, private messages, etc. maybe even extra-system tracking based on e-mail sensed in routers around the world... hey, the info IS there...), and these instances can be weighted, counted and presented. It would look like nodes with pipes, sort of like HP Openview did years ago, or like any ubiquitous graphical firewall/system monitor tool. Think: Etherape. It could be dynamic, static, or a mixed snapshot.

The upshot of this is that those freaks out there building falsely "deep" infatuous relationships will have their funky little bubbles burst when the the REST of the world can start to see past the misleading "Top # Friends" listing, which is pointless whether that list is static (like most) or "rotates faces" like F/B does.

It also would be interesting for husband/wife/other relationships when new tags have to be made to reduce relationship destruction. Wife has 52x more communication density markers with friends than she does with husband? Oh, how to assuage his fears, curtail his growing jealousies.

Markers such as Platonic Friend, Current item, Ex-, Professional, Hobby Group and more could be shaped and colored nodes, with strength modified by fatter tubes. Stagnant relationships could be shown in "broken" or light lines; stronger ones with wavy or fat lines. Active and stronger ones still can be shown with pulsating lines.

Suddenly, it's no longer gospel who your TOP x-number of friends are. The volume, density/depth, duration, constancy, and such of your communications will determine publicly or privately who your REAL best friends are.

I am sure Visual Analytics has something like this for their data mining for showing the IRS, FBI, and others the banking, cell phone, and other relationships between people, business or personal, for crime monitoring, marketing, and other purposes. But for social networking, I imagine something non-patented is common-sense or obvious, given the tools that exist to make this trivial.

However, I declare this text of mine to be freely available in Creative Commons and GPL-like terms that allow Open Source to implement this. I don't give a damn about any patent trolls so if Myspace or Friendster want to take this idea, GO FOR IT. Anything to diminish the inroads microshaft will try to make by/from hijacking Facebook.

I reserve the right to personally or in team implement my ideas written above into any projects I so desire, patents be damned.

Copyright 2007-10-29-1710 PST David Syes

Please pass this idea around.

S

Re:Decentralisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178795)

I think the secret to efficient social networking is decentralization, both of content and of standards. This is achieved by the semantic web... Take a look at FOAF, it's a simple exemple of how it could work. Host a RDF/XML file anywhere describing your connections and you're done. Extend the kind of vocabulary describing your information and your relation to people at anytime using OWL.

RDF and OWL provide ways to develop a huge social networks with different features, different takes on it , with decentralized development and decentralized content while still maintaining interoperability. Support the semantic web it rocks.

I'm not sure you could say anything less useful with any more buzzwords.

Semantic web = hype. Social networking = mega-hype. Put the hype-pipe down, it's rotting your brain.

Re:Decentralisation (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179201)

Ok, so let's say I buy into your glorious semantic web future, complete with acronyms that seem like that belong in a glowing star at the end of Batman's fist (FOAF!)...

What prevents your system from becoming clogged with spammers/camwhores/all the other shit MySpace has in 5 days flat?

Well, it's about time (3, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177633)

It's about time that there was some way to focus on the social network you're already with versus wading through "invitation-only hype" to get there.

oh, poor baby, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178105)

if you weren't so lame you would get invites.

PS Nifong was wrong

Re:Well, it's about time (2, Interesting)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178199)

How about a meta-social-network. You create an account and it registers with all the popular social networking sites. it then meta moderates your friends, invites, spam, etc into one central thingy. Then you can just focus on your friends whoever they are registered with.

Re:Well, it's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178811)

My mailbox says prior-art.

Re:Well, it's about time (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179333)

A social network mashup. My god. I think my meter for buzz words just pegged.

Seriously, though, I think Google is working on this.

Privacy? Facebook? (3, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177655)

API. While privacy advocates have been concerned about Google for the past several years, most of us are just beginning to comprehend Facebook's growing impact on who, when, what and how we connect with friends

Especially since we just learned that Facebook considers it a "perk" to allow their employees to surf people's profiles, read their email (which they're pushing HARD to get people to use as a sort of bastardized webmail) and see their "private" photos and such.

Oh yeah, and get your password, log in to your account, and upload explicit photos. [valleywag.com]

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21177865)

Has that actually been verified by a real news source?

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21177961)

I don't know, but that whole story smells funny.

An employee looked up a user's password? Ummmm... OK, I guess it would be possible, assuming that every engineer who had anything to do with their systems is a total moron they _might_ have put the system together in that way.

Much more likely: the person who made up the story is a moron who doesn't understand how passwords are stored.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177971)

I thought serious companies we're supposed to not give employees access to customer passwords.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (1)

TheUser0x58 (733947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178733)

I thought serious websites were supposed to store passwords as a hash, not as plaintext. So you can't just "look up" someone's password even if you have access to the database. This story is poorly concocted fiction.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179689)

If you have access to the db you could just change the damn picture without going through the web site layer..the whole story is bull

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (2, Interesting)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178311)

Centralized data source? The operators of the data source are always a security concern. They need to be both honest (and not invade your privacy) and noble (and not sell your data to third parties for a profit). It seems like pointing this out is the focus of the article, but it is not new information. Decentralized data source? You operate what data goes where, but it is a much harder system to support. The reason MySpace and Facebook are popular is because they are easy-to-use and non-technical people have adopted them as de-facto social meet/discussion places. I dare you to implement an easy-to-use decentralized social network. For Facebook in specific, it sucks that they took $$$ from Microsoft. This puts them in bed with a powerful influence in the software arena... and one that is not trustworthy for having any business ethics. By itself, I trusted Facebook. I still won't put anything on my Facebook profile that I would need to keep private. With Microsoft, maybe it is time to delete anything personal from the site...

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178485)

With Microsoft, maybe it is time to delete anything personal from the site.

If you already put anything on Facebook that really shouldn't be there, it is far too late to take it down now. People don't seem to grasp the Ollie North effect: just because you "deleted" something doesn't mean it was removed from existence. Google won't even guarantee that it can permanently delete anything, and any major site is going to retain archived records for an indefinite period, which means it can still be distributed and sold to others long after you officially "deleted" it.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179119)

People don't seem to grasp the Ollie North effect: just because you "deleted" something doesn't mean it was removed from existence.

No, it is understood that deleting is not the same as destruction... but it will almost always mean that an extra effort would be needed to get access to the supposedly purged information. Even if getting access to the data is only a matter of adding an "IS_DELETED='Y'" term to a SQL Query, the extra effort will be a big enough barrier against most attempts to access my data.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179193)

Obviously you understand that but I will bet dollars to doughnuts that the vast majority of Facebook users believe they have the power to remove that information permanently with a few mouse clicks. They don't. And if the Feds come looking for information such barriers don't matter much ... if the data is available the company will be required to produce it, and with a National Security Letter nobody will ever know.

Oh I know, it's all a matter of risk vs. reward: personally I don't think that social networking is worth the risk. As a determinedly middle-class American with all the financial obligations that implies, I try to keep my privacy as best I can. I have too much too lose, if I were ever victimized by an identity thief. There's always some risk when doing anything online, of course, but there's no reason to make oneself into an easy target.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178691)

Yes and we all believe a story that is labeled as "Rumormonger: Facebook employees meddling with profiles?" maybe thats just you but I would like to hear you know facts, quotes, and I don't know sources. I'm not a huge fan of facebook but seriously don't spread rumors.

Re:Privacy? Facebook? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178721)

Especially since we just learned that Facebook considers it a "perk" to allow their employees to surf people's profiles, read their email (which they're pushing HARD to get people to use as a sort of bastardized webmail) and see their "private" photos and such.

Oh yeah, and get your password, log in to your account, and upload explicit photos.


Do you have anything to back up any of those claims, presumably articles which don't have the subtitle "rumormonger"?

congratulations (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177669)

if you want convenience, you don't get privacy

if you want privacy, you don't get convenience

and some people are shocked, shocked i tell you, to find out that a lot of people don't treat their private life with the security protocols of a swiss bank. because they simply don't care

next nonissue please

Re:congratulations (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178429)

if you want convenience, you don't get privacy

if you want privacy, you don't get convenience

This argument is faulty. It sounds like a pretty nifty contradiction, but it simply is not true. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. You *can* have both convenience and privacy, but much like a software project that meets the requirements *and* is on time... it is going to cost more.

and some people are shocked, shocked i tell you, to find out that a lot of people don't treat their private life with the security protocols of a swiss bank. because they simply don't care

"Privacy data" means different things to different people in different situations. Some people are very comfortable sharing intimate details with strangers. Some people have trouble discussing their feelings with their spouses. I prefer to err on the side of Openness (we demand it of our business executives, do we not?) but I think a lot of people will broadcast data that you think might be "private" because they have the opinion that the information is safe to be considered public.

A seemingly scary invasion of privacy that I came across recently is a site that lets you query information of public education professionals in New Jersey. Because this is "private" data, I think it shouldn't be made available. But because the professionals are "public servants" it is arguable that the information should be provided because of full disclosure of the rights of parents. Here's the infringing site: http://php.app.com/edstaff/search.php [app.com] . If you went to public high school in New Jersey, knock yourself out.

privacy fundamentalist alert (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178617)

sometimes, privacy is of secondary importance

a good example being: you just provided one above, thanks

a lot of people, slashdot being hotbed of such privacy fundamentalists, are of this weird hyperactive hysterical panic over every privacy transgression: showing your receipt when you leave a store, cameras in the innercity, etc.

in their mind, they can't balance some prudent, common sense situations where, frankly, your privacy doesn't matter. at all

privacy is AN issue to consider on complex topics. it is not THE issue. sometimes, privacy is the most important concern. and other times, privacy ranks lower in importance than other concerns. like before you get on an airplane. there are people in this world who want to blow up airplanes. therefore, people have to submit to privacy intrusions before getting on airplanes. beginning and end of story

but you listen to some people, and it's like the second coming of hitler, the shocktroops of a new fascism. well yeah, if you got your social education from a comic book and you are a paranoid schizophrenic, i guess

Re:privacy fundamentalist alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178953)

You had me until you Godwined your argument.

i'm using godwin as rhetorical jujitsu (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179143)

i didn't reference hitler in my argument, i alluded to those i was arguing against referencing hitler in their arguments

thereby not ending my thread, but ending their threads before they even got started

it's a reverse godwin preemptive strike

um, yeah, that's the ticket (cough)

Re:congratulations (1)

Alonzo Meatman (1051308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178983)

Oh, just wait for the next generation of malware. You think identity theft is a problem now? Wait until the spambots are good enough to interpret the whole carbon trail of data we leave behind us. We'll all wish that we'd been less.... descriptive in our social networking profiles and our blog comments.

slashdot comment profiling (0, Offtopic)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177773)



perhaps slashdot could build comment moderation profiles and then offer a filter of only the type of comments I'm going to want to read.... As it is, the moderation system on slashdot creates one messy big profile for all readers.

Everyone could moderate all the time for this system. Then my profile develops a network of other readers who share my preferences for comments. As I visit Slashdot stories that have been moderated by thousands of readers, my shared-perspective readers would bubble up the comments that will most appeal to me-- not just the popular comments that appeal to the largest number of moderators.

Maybe this doesn't match the topic here. Sorry- the topic made me think of this...

Seth

Re:slashdot comment profiling (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178017)

"slashdot could build comment moderation profiles and then offer a filter of only the type of comments I'm going to want to read"

As if slashdot isnt enough of an echo chamber, you would like people to be more circle jerky?
How do you know what you want to read? I think the best slashdot comments are the ones you dont expect.

Re:slashdot comment profiling (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178435)

I think the best slashdot comments are the ones you dont expect.
Trouserless under-arm hoverboards thrill me with their delightful feathery globules.

You're welcome.

Re:slashdot comment profiling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178955)

Favorite comment all day.

Great Idea (3, Insightful)

graviplana (1160181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177937)

Building an Open Source version of Facebook is probably one of the smartest thing people can do right now in this Web 2.0 (*shudder*) world. More to the point, privacy advocates should be actively boycotting Facebook if they know what is good for them. I refuse to use it. The people who maintain it have too much power and it has reached a level of social and interpersonal networking utility that trumps novelty and freedom for conformity.

Why an OSS Facebook would fail (3, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178299)

Branding & peer pressure.

If you think millions of kids are signing up to Facebook for its function, you're probably wrong. Most likely they're doing this to be in with the groovy (or whatever they're called now) kids. That relies on branding and brand awareness.

An OSS facebook has no branding and coolness (perhaps geekiness, but that is not cool). Just like Coke would not care about an opensource cola, Facebook does not care about an open source service.

And do you really think that youngsters are worried about privacy?

Re:Why an OSS Facebook would fail (1)

graviplana (1160181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178523)

I agree that branding is important. Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joomla [wikipedia.org] to see a great example of OSS done right with a branding approach. I also agree that most young people aren't worried about privacy, like a frog in a slow boiling pot of water isn't worried about boiling to death. :D

Quickly, they must not make money (2, Interesting)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177987)

Why does facebook need to be replaced by something open source? Is it offensive for them to make money?

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178093)

It must be open source so we can figure out it's weaknesses and hack it to pieces.

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (1)

XoXus (12014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178183)

You idiot. Where in the summary, or the article, does anyone take issue with Facebook generating a profit?

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178323)

Why does facebook need to be replaced by something open source? Is it offensive for them to make money?


Uh, yeah. Exactly. Which is why we need an open-source replacement for MySQL, too, since it must also be offensive that MySQL AB makes money.

Where does the idea that open source is inextricably tied to opposition to people making money come from? Certainly, that's not the reason behind IBM or Sun's open-source efforts, or lots of other companies'.

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178333)

Because we'll NEED one. Especially since over 800 FaceBook users do NOT want microsoft's paws all over facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3261815073 [facebook.com]
----
Don't let microsoft buy facebook
Business - General

Size:
        890 members
New:
        56 More Members

Profile updated on Friday

-----

And that's not the ONLY group in Facebook now wanting ms owning or having control in some way over user information, f/b direction, etc.

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178449)

Over eight hundred out of forty-two million. Wow, I guess we should consider those guys... <roll eyes>

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178497)

It doesn't. It's a classic example of the stupid envy that permeates the "open source community". They want to be the caliph instead of the caliph. But without putting in any of the investment, or taking any of the risk. Kind of like we all thought the world would be until we actually grew up...

Re:Quickly, they must not make money (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179099)

For the same reason that having any one player, especially a commercial organisation, attain a completely dominant position is a Very Bad Thing. The canonical example is of course Microsoft. When there's lots of competition, the only way to compete is to offer your (potential) customers something better than the competition does. Once you have a massive advantage in terms of market share, you're pretty much free to do whatever boosts your own profit -- and that very rarely aligns with what your customers would like to see, or "forward progress" in general.

In fact, publically traded companies (not sure if Facebook is, but I presume Microsoft must be expecting some sort of return on its recent investment) are required to maximise profits. So any corporation with a "near-monopoly" is pretty much required by the law to screw over its customers and set progress back a decade if by doing so it can maintain its status and maximise profits.

I'm not really sure that it matters in this case, though I guess some people think social networking sites are tremendously important, otherwise this article wouldn't be here. Even if they are important, it's not necessary for an open source "replacement" to appear; though I guess some people seem to think OSS is powered by magical pixies. Plus, an OSS solution would pretty much imply there's no single player with undue control.

In summary, it's offensive to some because a for-profit entity which appears to be staffed largely by immature people who have no respect for the privacy of their users has access to a lot of people's personal information. To me, it pales in comparison to say Google; but on the other hand, Google seem to actually have a reasonable track record regarding personal information, and generally behave in the manner in which systems administrators are expected to behave.

XFN perhaps? (3, Interesting)

improfane (855034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178009)

XFN, the XHTML Friends aims to identify relationships with links.

Imagine if everybody had a blog that used OpenID. This could be decentralized. Friends could then login with OpenId and be identified what relationship they are with the OpenID URL from XFN.

http://gmpg.org/xfn/ [gmpg.org]

Not the best idea (3, Insightful)

ukpyr (53793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178095)

Cloning Facebook would be pointless. Unless your providing something above and beyond what Facebook offers, why bother? Average users won't be engaged by the privacy angle and so, won't switch.

Cool idea though. The real take away is that creating services like facebook are fairly trivial from a development standpoint. All these features are being reabsorbed by the various web app framework makers right now. Building a facebook2 should take a lot less than a quarter billion : )

Re:Not the best idea (1)

ZsDie (1182025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178347)

Agreed, using a bunch of APIs that other sites are providing make me think of the 2007 version of a website full of animated gifs. Much less how you would make this an open source project and have any sense of privacy on a scale such as facebook. Just don't see that one happening.

Census data or electoral roll (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178141)

How hard would it be to get the electoral roll data and plug it into a facebook like thing. Then you could have "Friends", "Relatives" and "Colleagues". You would have everyone in there and half the really important relationships ready made for you.

Where could you get the colleague data from? How do you know who works where?

OpenQabal (3, Informative)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178179)

There are probably other FOSS projects to create a truly decentralized, federated social-networking and collaboration package, but the one I'm intimately familiar with is
OpenQabal [java.net] . OQ is all about developing social-networking and collaboration software that puts users in control of their own information (including the much mentioned "social graph"), supports identity federation, and facilitates distributed conversations. Development is just getting started, but we're working off of a couple of existing code-bases to get a headstart.

Disclaimer: I'm the originator, chief architect and, so far, sole developer on the project, so everything I say may be considered biased, slanted, unreliable, or whatever else your skeptical little heart pleases.

And sadly... (3, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178259)

And sadly, those of us who are involved programmers in the FOSS community aren't social enough to have a Facebook profile.

I don't get "Social Websites" (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178289)

I think I missed a boat somewhere. :)

I don't understand the appeal of sites like "Facebook" or "Myspace". What they look like to me is web-based personal-website-creation tools. What is so interesting about a site that lets people make web sites about themselves? What am I missing? I already have a web site hosted on my own domain. Why would I want a Facebook or Myspace web site?

Re:I don't get "Social Websites" (2, Interesting)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178407)

I don't understand the appeal of sites like "Facebook" or "Myspace". What they look like to me is web-based personal-website-creation tools. What is so interesting about a site that lets people make web sites about themselves? What am I missing? I already have a web site hosted on my own domain. Why would I want a Facebook or Myspace web site?

Speaking only for myself, it's the "social" aspect that I find value in. I like meeting new people and find social-networks like facebook pretty good for that. Being able to, for example, search for females who identify themselves as libertarians who live in my local community, is kinda cool. But really it could be anything... it's just handy to have another avenue to meet other people who have similar interests, whether it's politics, hobbies, reading, religion, whatever. The event posting thing is pretty cool too.

Don't get me wrong, social networks aren't perfect, and they aren't a replacement for meatspace interaction with real humans... but they're a nice complement to the other ways of socializing that we have.

mutual blogging (1)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178531)

I think the best part is... it's a blog that people actually read. When I post stuff on my
Facebook profile nearly all of my (Facebook) Friends! They sometimes comment - that is great.
When I had a blog before it seemed that nobody read it. Of course, the downside is that I
have to read their posts too :)

Its this mutual blogging that's the best for me.

I am sure it could be done with RSS and FOAF. I would love to get out of Facebook's garden.

Re:I don't get "Social Websites" (4, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178711)

In anyone's life there are hundreds or thousands of people that know you, but with whom your relationship doesn't rank quite high enough to merit weekly or even monthly e-mails or phone calls. That doesn't mean you wouldn't like to keep track of them, where they are, or what they're doing.

A small business may have a similar group of people who they would like to keep track of as potential customers, or who would want to know what the business is up to. Again, not your prime customers, but that second tier of interested people that a sole proprietor doesn't have time to keep in touch with.

With Facebook you can add two or three hundred "friends" and with no further effort see on a daily basis what at least some of them are doing in their lives. They choose to Opt-in, so you can e-mail them your news without worries about backlash, and since they choose what information to display to you, you get a pretty nice picture of what matters in their lives.

Probably two thirds of the friends that I have in Facebook [facebook.com] are people (including relatives) that I would never otherwise be in touch with.

Plus, you can turn all of these people into Vampires.
br

Re:I don't get "Social Websites" (1)

Enviro (852343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179151)

"I don't get "Social Websites" Sounds like this idea is just right for you.

Re:I don't get "Social Websites" (2, Informative)

skrolle2 (844387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179569)

I don't understand the appeal of sites like "Facebook" or "Myspace". What they look like to me is web-based personal-website-creation tools. What is so interesting about a site that lets people make web sites about themselves? What am I missing?
Well, apparently, you don't have, or have ever had any friends. I'm so sorry for you. :-)

It might be easy for you to make a website about yourself, and then other people who know you could perhaps google for your name and find it and know what you are up to. However, most people really really can't or would never do a website of themselves, or buy a domain name, or start a blog. And if you had a lot of friends who did, you wouldn't really check their blogs regularly, and you wouldn't bookmark fifty different website that may or may not change addresses to keep track of those people. And if they're the kind that don't have their own website, they would NEVER ever find yours. So you remain disconnected.

Facebook, like most other social networking sites, lets you find and connect with people you know. However, Facebook does a few things differently and better, which is why it's such a big success right now.

First, people use their real names. There are no "usernames" or other shit I'm supposed to know about people. Instead, they just use their real ones, which makes it a helluva lot easier to find people. I have a few friends who, like me, sign up to every social networking site just to check out the features, to see where the market is going, and we all noted something special about Facebook, we found a lot more friends and acquaintances than we have ever done on other sites. I reconnected and talked to old, old friends I haven't seen in 15 years. That's awesome.

Second, Facebook is actually tighter than most similar sites, since you can only really see people that are your friends, or are in the same network as you. This actually makes a lot of sense, since the absolute majority of users are not interesting to me and vice versa. There's a small subset of users I'm interested in, and I really couldn't care about the rest. If the irrelevant users are shoved out of my way, I can focus on the ones that are interesting.

Third, Facebook has internal feeds so that I can get to know, at a glance, what my friends are doing. Most of the people I've added are people I speak to pretty rarely, I would probably never email them or call them and ask how their lives are, but now, I get a little feed of it straight to my facebook homepage. Relationships starting or ending, babies born, travels done, where people work, what people do. It's ok if most only update their stuff every month, I get a slow trickle of interesting events.

Fourth, Facebook Apps allows every user to customize Facebook into what THEY like to do online, it's customized stickiness. If I want to compare movie-tastes with my friends, send funny links, find old classmates, find old colleagues, play web games, or a lot of other stuff, I don't need to get my friends to sign up to a different website for each of those functions, we can do it all on Facebook via different Apps.

Re:I don't get "Social Websites" (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179637)

I agree with you to some extent. I never got into Myspace, but Facebook has some real value for me, mostly in the form of photo sharing and event planning. I can get most of the regulars I go out with to join a club, then when people want to organize events, there's a simple interface. While other sites for this exist, after the event is over, I can see all the photos my friends took during that event. The ones that include me are even tagged with my name so that everyone I know can keep up with what I'm doing.

Finally, I'm in a high-turnover area, so it makes learning about and seeing pictures of my South African former co-worker's new baby quite simple.

I really do wish that there were a method to get the social sites to work together so that I didn't have constant invitations to join a new one. Oh, and I hate vampires, zombies, X me, and "Rate me" quizzes. I wish the extra apps on FB would just go away.

slashdot (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178371)

is my social networking, mmo, blogging, news aggregator site built on foss.

I stopped Social Networking a long time ago... (3, Funny)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178425)

/etc/init.d/net.social stop

Similar ideas are already being worked on (1)

itsjpr (16533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178451)

These basic ideas are already being worked on with such systems as myVocs [myvocs.org] (pdf) [stonesoup.org] , IAMSuite [mams.org.au] , and CoManage [internet2.edu] . It is an idea whose time has come due. It's basically about the web maturing and adopting system boundaries (however loose or tightly you want to define them). It's a similar transition from DOS->Win->NT (or any batch to multitask migration you want to draw a parallel to). The web is about like DOS right now.

Social Networking isn't a single concept (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178511)

There are many forms of social networking site, from the business-oriented LinkedIn to the meet-and-greet sites like Facebook to the blogging-oriented LiveJournal and MySpace. (And even those two attract very different users.)

The "obvious" approach for an Open Source solution is to have a core component that is fairly generic, fairly light, permits data exchange between sites no matter how they specialize, and permits plug-ins to enable that specialization. (There's no shortage of object exchange and data exchange protocols, so I really can't think of anything in the core component that couldn't be slapped together from pre-existing Open Source code.)

You want something that's generic, because you want a reason for people to use the Open Source solution besides politics. If a person can totally customize their space to suit the specific sort - or sorts - of social networking they want to do, then you have a reason. Instead of maintaining one account for each and every type of social networking you want to do, you have one account, one repository and an infinite ways to tailor and filter it for each social circle you're interested in.

I really can't see anybody really leaping onto Facebook II or MySpace II - if they wanted to do social networking, they'd already have accounts on the originals. The only reason anyone might want a new system is if it can do something the existing systems can't. One thing the existing systems can't do is share data. Another thing they can't do is be polymorphic. Ergo, those are the two things a FOSS social networking site would need to do to offer anything new and exciting.

Would that be enough, though? Probably not. Hence the plugins, to allow users to include webapps and other features. Each user would then be able to do more than just include photographs and text.

Again, would this be enough? No idea. It would have novelty and personalizability, but it may be so flexible that it's unusable, people may be getting burned out on such networks, and existing systems have the edge just by being there first.

Re:Social Networking isn't a single concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178903)

One thing the existing systems can't do is share data. Another thing they can't do is be polymorphic. Ergo, those are the two things a FOSS social networking site would need to do to offer anything new and exciting.


Until the average Facebook or Myspace user knows WTF "polymorphic" means and why they'd want it - without you explaining it to them - there's zero userbase for yer FOSS social networking site.

OTOH, many people who do understand what you're talking about don't care about Facebook and Myspace because they consider such sites to be completely hype-driven wastes of time - and not the good kind. The Ghostbusters II kind.

It's not about features, it's not about friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21178623)

A lot of the "replace facebook" commentary seems to miss what facebook's killer app is. The applications are a pretty recent addition; they're cool, and it's a good platform for them, but that's not what makes facebook dominate. The "social networking" component helped a lot, but facebook isn't the greatest networking tool out there either. The market niche facebook captured was the digital equivalent of the college facebook. Facebook's killer app is search--the ability to meet a person in real life and then find them online. One of the things it did really well in the startup phase was to capture institutional-specific data; for college students, things like residence hall, major, etc--the kinds of things that come up when you're having an awkward conversation at a party. Because it did this well, it became the de facto place to go to find someone, and that's the edge that led it to beat out other, more feature-rich platforms. Anyone trying to take them down should keep that in mind.

Mugshot from Redhat (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178791)

Isn't Mugshot [mugshot.org] an Open Source social networking endeavour?
I haven't used it but it looks like [mugshot.org] it makes sharing the sort of the stuff that gets shared on facebook fairly easy (perhaps with a little less crack).

I'm not sure if it tell you when it's someone you know's birthday. That's just about the only useful feature I've seen on Facebook.

The important thing is the social graph (5, Insightful)

crf00 (1048098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178943)

You missed one important point: I don't care about wheter my fancy profile can be imported or exported easily from somewhere else, but I need my social network to be available in any other website that I visit. Here is my explanation by example:

Alright, I have a facebook account, and I have tons of friends, and now I come to Slashdot or some other site. I want to find out which of my friends are user of Slashdot too and I want to be able to add them into my social network in Slashdot, I want Slashdot's People modifier to work as it should without doing lots of work. I want to able to manage my network not only from Facebook but also from Slashdot, I want to find new friends through friends of friends or connection graph inside Slashdot, I want to add those friends in Slashdot and update the connection automatically to Facebook too.

I have a blog on Blogger, but I don't want to import my social network into my Google account. I want to let only my friends to post comment to my blog, but my friends don't have Google account or don't want to create or import his/her social network to Google. I want Blogger to be able to verify some anonymous to be actually my friends before allowing to post comment.

I have a Friendster account and I like Friendster more. I have some friends who only use Friendster and some friends who only use Facebook. I want my network to be synchronized within these 2 social network manager, and when I visit other site like Slashdot, I want to be able to import the 2 or more networks automatically.

I have a group of high school friends in Facebook and our group decides to create a new website. The group is well managed and controlled by ensuring everyone in the group know each other and are from the same school. Our new website want to be able to allow registration only from this group of people, so we want a verification system from Facebook between our website and our group.

I don't want to let everybody know who is my friend and how I connected to other people. I don't want to put what FOAF file on my website and let any people mine my private network information. I want to keep my social graph private and only available to my friends and sites I use, and I want authentication based on the social network. When I visit other sites like Slashdot, I don't want to tell Slashdot who are all the friends I have, I only want Facebook to find out from Slashdot that which are my friends are also using Slashdot and return the subset of list of friends. Social network should be private and it is very important to not expose it completely to public.

This is what the things that is needed, not what fancy profile or what superpoke application. With the power of a distributed social graph, alot of powerful things can be done. Other than that, privacy is IMPORTANT and should be always kept in mind. For this to work I have an architecture in mind and I think I should write on my blog now to share with you. Nevertheless, your direction is correct and I like this idea, lets do it together and make it a better social web!

Highly Misleading Article Title! (1)

Briden (1003105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179101)

Who didn't think that the article title referred to circumventing the security model of facebook, via Open Source?

Wait... they want _LESS_ privacy? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179111)

Now, I am well aware that information posted to a social networking site is not especially private, but what is probably the main draw of Facebook over MySpace is networks. By default, only people in one's network can see one's profile and Facebook allows one to set whether each part of one's profile is viewable by everyone, people on the same network, friends even with limited rights, or friends with non-limited rights. (Having a limited rights level for friends seems silly to me, but it is in there.) The network plans discussed in the article are all completely open so anyone can see anyone else's profile. That is not what I, nor likely many college students, want in a social networking site.
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