Social Networks – free and controled

When people talk or write about social networks or personal profiles in the internet, the blackest corner of its dark side is the ‚collection of personal data‘. Such collections are sought after, they are tools for structural power and worth a lot of money. But the centralized collection of personal data is not something that the users of social networks have to accept without choice. Centralisation of data is – an intended – by-product of monopol- and capitalistic structures. Who likes to lead or control ‚the market‘, who wants to be the ‚only‘, ‚most important‘, ‚best‘, ‚biggest‘, who want’s to make a fast lot of money with one idea … can only choose a path leading to structural power. This is the living perspective of net providers – not the users perspective. Most users don’t care if their data are collected together with the data of other users in one center. Generally they are not interested in the structures behind, but on the user surface.
The start of the internet created a structure: computers in different parts of the world were linked together. This opened a free space, an nearly uncontrolable flow of communication. Freedom makes dictators worry. The uneasiness that a flow creates for control freaks is one reason why some people always have to talk about child abuse, when the conversation comes to freedom of communication in the intenet. To gain control, filter systems are bought (e.g. in China1 , Qatar2, Oman2, Saudi Arabia2, Kuwait2, Yemen2, Sudan2, Tunesia2 ) and technical possibilities created to switch off parts of the internet (e.g. in Egypt3, Germany4).
Users of social networks ALSO want control, but to control with their own hands. An autonomous security that fotos, stories, data with the profile are only shared with the people you want to share with. And users don’t want to automatically loose their ownership on pictures and stories.
The fact that a ‚big brother, mum or dad‘ is always looking across one’s shoulder to take care ‚that nothing happens‘ is not very sexy for users. No matter if the brother is a network provider with the label ’now even safer!‘ on the product, or a government paid specialist carefully balanceing human rights with economic interests.
Because of the original structure of internet, being different, independent, linked computers, there has always been the possibility to communicate directly without data collection or centralisation. Now an alternative, self controled user surface has reached the ‚market‘. Diaspora5 is a social network, that four students in New York, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg and Raphael Sofaerxyz, have been working on since 2008. Users/Seeds can create a typical profile, publish fotos, link with twitter and flickr, … The difference to facebook: personal data are not centralized and collected. Who wants can even join with his/her own computer to give space for communication.
No centalisaion, collection of data is limited, ownership and own control of the profile exist.
This does not intend to be an advertisement for Diaspora. I don’t want to give an reason to create more profiles in the internet. I like to give a view on structures, on freedom and control.
Collecting and centralizing data is not only an economic playground for network providers but also for search engines (like Google), but that is another story to be told.

[1From july 1st 2009 China forces private users into filtering. „Harmonie als Synonym für Zensur“, taz 26.06.2009]
[2 „West Censoring East: The Use of Western Technologies by Middle East Censors, 2010-2011“ by Helmi Noman und Jillian C. York for OpenNet Initiative April 2011 ><%5D
[3„Wie Ägypten aus dem Internet verschwand“ Matthias Kremp in Spiegel online 28.01.2011 ><%5D
[4 ‚Zugangserschwerung-Gesetz‘ bill proposed by Federal German Cabinet, april 22nd 2009]

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