The NY Times has reported that four 'nerds' in New York City have decided to start their own social network to combat Facebook and its highly criticized privacy policies. These men decided that they needed to raise $10,000 in order to launch the site, and using an online fundraising tool, Kickstarter, they raised this amount in only 12 days. The money continues to flood in and is currently tallied at over $23,000. The men behind this idea have been consistently surprised by the level of support coming from backers who are dissatisfied with Facebook.
This could reflect a growing trend of users throwing their weight behind Web2.0 solutions that make them feel more comfortable than Facebook has. Then again, will most people drop Facebook and move to the new network, Diaspora? Only time will tell. Consumers generally drive the market, but there hasn't been a serious contender for the Facebook space in recent years, forcing unhappy users to either abandon this type of social networking altogether or just deal with it. Perhaps up and coming developers will start giving users a choice. Will that, in turn, lead Facebook to heed the cries of its user community a bit more?
The problem for these young entrepreneurs of course is that the network effects that make Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their ilk so useful make it hard to break in sometimes. If all your friends are using it you're more likely to join. Getting that critical mass to happen is challenging however.