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I'm looking for an alternative social networking site to Facebook.

Here's a list of preferred features:

  • Friends list to connect with others
  • Photo sharing integration with Flickr
  • Video integration with YouTube
  • Micro-Blogging integration with Twitter or it's own micro-blogging engine
  • Messaging
  • Login with OpenID
  • Not stupid micro-web-app integration like Mafia and Farmville
  • Granular privacy controls so I can control who is allowed to see what content
  • Advertisements are fine as long as they aren't too obtrusive

Don't be discouraged to answer with a social networking site that doesn't meet all of the requirements since I doubt there is a viable alternative that does.

I'm particularly looking for a site that doesn't host most of its own content because I don't like having to duplicate the effort of posting pics/videos/etc on multiple sites to share.

Update: Added the 'friends list' requirement. My apologies for forgetting to mention it earlier and if I may have created any unnecessary confusion.

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closed as not constructive by Eight Days of Malaise, phwd Feb 14 '12 at 2:15

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This should be community wiki –  Henri Watson Jul 8 '10 at 0:48
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@Henri Why, I have asked a specific question with specific requirements for a best answer. If I had left the requirements more open-ended I'd make it cWiki but I intentionally focused it because I'm looking for something in particular. IE, this question has an objective answer and therefore doesn't need to be made a community wiki. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 1:14
    
@phwd What does the webapp-rec tag mean? –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 8:35
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@Evan Plaice I am just following @Senseful's tagging convention that he took up from superuser for questions that entail asking for recommendations/alternatives. In this case a recommendation for a social networking site. This way these questions that ask for specific requirements instead of a List of <X> do not necessarily have to be Cw, see meta, you can remove it if you do not think this is the case. –  phwd Jul 8 '10 at 14:05
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@Evan Plaice: I agree, with those specific requirements this question should not be CW. Consider making this more clear by putting this information in earlier and in an explicit way. For example in the first sentence and/or the title. –  Peter Mortensen Jul 13 '10 at 15:44
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18 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Google+?

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I was waiting for this answer. It looks like google finally stepped up and created a viable alternative. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '11 at 20:56
    
+1 it is the only viable alternative (2012) –  ajax333221 Sep 4 '12 at 1:59
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One thought based on the next to last requirement is to watch the evolution (Developer release is open http://www.joindiaspora.com/2010/09/15/developer-release.html) of Diaspora.

Find more information at http://www.joindiaspora.com/

current state.

We already have a rudimentary prototype of Diaspora running on our machines, and are working like mad to make it all we can be. Our current implementations include GPG encryption, scraping Twitter and Flickr, awesome design aesthetics, and the initial stages of connection infrastructure (“friending” other Diaspora instances).

first sprint.

It is our one and only goal to get Diaspora in the hands of every man, woman, and child at summer’s end. September 2010 will signify the release of the project in its first iteration, fully open-sourced under the AGPL. This release will be comprised of several key features for Diaspora, mainly:

  • Full-fledged communications between Seeds (Diaspora instances)
  • End to end GPG External Service Scraping of most major services (reclaim your data)
  • Version 1 of Diaspora’s API with documentation
  • Public GitHub repository of all Diaspora code

second sprint.

Once the core application is finished, we will focus on extending Diaspora, unleashing a battery of add-on modules and updates to the core system with the open-source community. We will migrate back to New York City to set up house, and will devise plans to make it even easier for the general public to utilize Diaspora, a la a dead-simple, five-minute setup. Like the first sprint, the second sprint will also be all about reclaiming all that is us.

flooring it to 88mph.

The future will offer a multitude of amazing new capabilities for Diaspora. A taste of what’s floating around in our heads right now:

  • OpenID
  • Voice-over IP Distributed
  • Encrypted Backups
  • Instant Messaging protocol
  • UDP integration

The following are the official Diaspora demo instances, which will be wiped of all content at regular and unpredictable intervals:

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+1 Thanks for the suggestion. Too bad it has such a heinous name ;) –  Evan Plaice Jul 7 '10 at 23:24
    
I checked out the page and couldn't find any detailed info on the site. Is there a source where I can match up how well it meets my requirements? –  Evan Plaice Jul 7 '10 at 23:46
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It's currently under development (hence watch the evolution) and it's really a new approach to privacy. The NYT article gives a brief introduction that probably explains it better then I can: nytimes.com/2010/05/12/nyregion/12about.html?_r=1 –  Patrik Björklund Jul 8 '10 at 0:01
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-1 because it's so hyped and it's not out yet. –  davr Jul 10 '10 at 0:10
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@Evan it actually is if you have a deLorean. Notice the next line mentions the future –  phwd Sep 8 '10 at 19:10
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Wait 3 months.

Then look mainly at things that say they support oStatus.

alt text

What is oStatus?

oStatus is emerging as the main protocol that will support distributed social networking. It's a collection of other technologies that enable the distributed social web.

  • webfinger - for finding friends, openid, service discovery etc.
  • salmon protocol - for making sure comments on one site flow to back upstream to their originators.
  • PubSubHubBub - a webhook protocol for distributing messages.
  • ActivityStreams - an extension to RSS/Atom to represent things like "Bob published this photo"
  • PortableContacts - Secure address books and friends list.

You seem like someone who will want distributed social networking as it let's the marketplace combat the lock-in power of the network effect Facebook has. Right now, it's hard to leave Facebook because everyone is on it. Once the dam bursts with oStatus, it will be much easier to leave any social networking site without leaving your social network. This sets up a marketplace and ecology where sites will compete on features, security, and privacy for your membership - but they don't get to hold you hostage.

Where is it?

There is a bunch of stuff happening in the open social web right now.

Wordpress is getting an oStatus plugin/aggregator called SocialRiver. They are in alpha/development right now. In the meantime there are already wordpress plugins for most of the oStatus spec.

6D has code on github right now and some demo sites. They were going to use xmpp but I believe from the mailing list that they will support oStatus.

Status.net, the folks who made identi.ca are leading a lot of the charge on oStatus and are supporting it right now.

Elgg, an open source social network, has started down the ostatus road by adding salmon, and they are working on the rest.

The root cause of our discontent with most social networks - be they myspace or facebook or orkut or whatever, is the power differential. If facebook or myspace decide to do something you don't like, you can't leave because your social network is locked into that site. Making the whole thing distributed means you can change your provider - just like you can change your ISP or email provider.

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Great answer, I'll definitely upvote it as soon as I can vote again. The platform looks very promising and looks like it has a pretty good track record on Status.net. If you look @ the Diaspora project it will be implement some of the protocols of oStatus. See status.net/wiki/Diaspora –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 17:19
    
I didn't mention them as they were brought up earlier, but yes. Upvote (future) appreciated! The diaspora guys have been working closely with the ostatus folks and seem to buy into the webhook model as well. –  Matt Katz Jul 8 '10 at 19:37
    
I'm really happy to see this option move up the list. Even though it doesn't necessarily cover all of my requirements I personally think it has the most traction to becoming the next step in social networking. I've added a 50 point because I agree and you have provided a lot of good info here. Keep it up –  Evan Plaice Feb 11 '11 at 20:47
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Orkut - Owned by google, other than that I am not personally familiar.

  • Friends list to connect with others (YES)
  • Photo sharing integration with Flickr (YES, but Picasa, not Flickr)
  • Video integration with YouTube (YES)
  • Micro-Blogging integration with Twitter or it's own micro-blogging engine (Not sure)
  • Messaging Login with OpenID (YES, Google's OAuth implementation)
  • Not stupid micro-web-app integration like Mafia and Farmville (None that I know of)
  • Granular privacy controls so I can control who is allowed to see what content (YES, but could be improved)
  • Advertisements are fine as long as they aren't too obtrusive (Mostly unobtrusive)
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Huge in Brazil. –  Evan Carroll Jul 7 '10 at 23:29
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+1 good answer. But how does it match up with my requirements? –  Evan Plaice Jul 7 '10 at 23:46
    
Thanks for the update. Being someone who has never used Orkut this helps a lot. –  Evan Plaice Jul 9 '10 at 7:44
    
Huge here in India too. Let me tell you one thing, I was regular Orkut user once. I stopped using it since the day I started using Facebook. Sorry to say it anyway. The UI design is hideous. –  blntechie Jul 9 '10 at 12:57
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Orkut advertisements unobtrusive? I hate that huge banner below the friends panel. Adblock Plus FTW!!! –  blntechie Jul 9 '10 at 13:04
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Ning

  • Photo sharing integration with Flickr - Yes Source
  • Video integration with YouTube - Yes - Source
  • Micro-Blogging integration with Twitter or it's own micro-blogging engine - Yes Source
  • Messaging - Yes as well as Chat
  • Login with OpenID - No
  • Not stupid micro-web-app integration like Mafia and Farmville Be gone Zynga!
  • Granular privacy controls so I can control who is allowed to see what content Err... I think right now if you make your own network that is your privacy. Then the up level to that is to add a person in your network as your friend
  • Advertisements are fine as long as they aren't too obtrusive - Google Ads ok ?

Now the catch. There is some talk of Ning giving up their free networks (it has been free for some time)

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+1 good answer, I'll check it out. –  Evan Plaice Jul 7 '10 at 23:28
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Ning is no longer offering free services. One of community I am following there had to move because of this. –  paan Jul 8 '10 at 6:00
    
It stops on July 20 actually when the new plans come out. –  phwd Jul 8 '10 at 6:19
    
care for an update? –  Tshepang Dec 13 '10 at 22:12
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None. The features might be the same, but the biggest value of Facebook nowadays is that everyone is on it. Dial in your privacy settings.

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Even with privacy settings set to the max that doesn't stop FB from farming out my personal data to their advertisers. The first time I saw my personal profile show up in Google I was done with FB. You say that everybody is on FB, well, everybody used to be on MySpace too. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 2:53
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The difference between e.g. Google and FB is how their business interests align or dis-align with users interests. Facebook needs your private information and social graph become accessible to third parties. Google does not: they want to serve you better ads and make sure you use Web more. Google wants to use what they know about to talk back to you. FB wants to sell your info to 3rd parties. Putting into extreme - in Google, you are user. In Facebook, you are item in catalog. –  Miro A. Jul 9 '10 at 20:55
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Cliqset ticks all of your boxes. Sounds like what you need is true interoperability, control and data portability.

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+1 Thanks. Wow... Wish I had another upvote. It's like Facebook that doesn't suck, on crack... –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 1:48
    
Glad to help! I can't stress how amazing Cliqset is (no, I'm not an employee or affiliated). Cliqset really understands that the people-centric (social) web needs to be interoperable to unleash it's true power. Ok, I'll stop drinking the kool aid now :) –  Daveyjoe Jul 8 '10 at 1:56
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It even has google analytics integration so you can track how much you're interacting with certain people. Someone got a little API happy on that one. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 2:00
    
can't connect to their webserver… duh? is this like yiid.de? –  danieldekay Feb 11 '11 at 17:12
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Hehe... Myspace?

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You're trying to be funny right? :) –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 4:04
    
myspace is alright. The cool kids aren't there' but they've done a great job improving the service in the last couple of years. –  seanyboy Jul 8 '10 at 9:16
    
This answer needs some serious updating. @Marc or @seanyboy please update it. –  phwd Sep 16 '10 at 22:25
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Bebo?

  • Photo sharing integration with Flickr - Don't think so
  • Video integration with YouTube - Definitely
  • Micro-Blogging integration with Twitter or it's own micro-blogging engine - Has it's own blogging stuff, which could be used for microblogging
  • Messaging - Of course
  • Login with OpenID - Nope

For the other points, I don't really know.

It's worth noting that AOL have just sold Bebo to some hedge fund operators (Criterion Capital Partners) and no-one really knows what's going to happen with it.

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+1 Thanks for the suggestion. That's too bad it's getting passed around by capital investment guys. Usually that means someone with more money than sense thinks they're going to compete by copying the already existing dominant platform. The only good thing to come from that is it will fractionalize facebook even faster and hasten its downfall. ;) –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 1:59
    
I think AOL bought it as a Facebook-killer a few years back and have now sold it on to a (Russian?) company at a huge loss... goodness knows what these next guys have planned! :) –  x3ja Jul 8 '10 at 2:34
    
Mega spam bot? That's what the Ruskies are best known for. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 4:03
    
yes, AOL bought it for ~$850M, sold it for less than $10M. Bebo's traffic dropped 50% year-on-year and is only going to continue going one way... –  iAn Jul 8 '10 at 9:10
    
@iAn ouch, that hurts... –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 17:23
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There is rumor out there that Google is going to launch Facebook competitor "Google Me". It was mentioned by Kevin Rose in This Week in Tech podcast #254 (http://twit.tv/254) ...

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It's hard to believe that Kevin Rose is so out of touch with the current state of social networking. Google already has a competing social networking platform to Facebook. It's called Orkut, see webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/1912/…. Orkut pretty much dominates the social networking space in Brazil and India but it never really gained critical mass in the US or Europe. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 6:18
    
+1 scratch the last comment about Kevin Rose. I googled it ::sigh:: and found a news post in pcmag that talks a little more about it. Thanks for the heads-up. Personally, I can't say that I'm too excited about the prospect of Google attempting to break into the social networking space again. Here's the link to the article pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2366027,00.asp –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 6:31
    
Well, if you judge by Google's success rate up to date, neither of the "social" things except YouTube was exactly a glaring success. Neither Wave nor Buzz did take over the world ... We will see how this one goes –  Miro A. Jul 8 '10 at 17:08
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-1 because it's just an unconfirmed rumor. Not a viable alternative. –  davr Jul 10 '10 at 0:11
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Now might be the time to update this answer ;) –  Patrik Björklund Jul 3 '11 at 7:39
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Friend Feed?

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+1 for the suggestion. Unfortunately, FF was Acquired by Facebook, so that option's off the table. See mashable.com/2009/08/10/friendfeed-facebook-users –  Evan Plaice Jul 7 '10 at 23:22
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You might try Amplify which is well suited for sharing and discussing content.

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+1 thanks for the suggestion. How does it fit into the list of requirements? I haven't looked at it in detail but it looks like just another microblogging clone of FB, Twitter, FriendFeed, etc... –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 1:19
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https://mypirates.net/ - "unite for freedom"

Doesn't have many features yet, but it's got a good idea.

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what are the features ? –  phwd Sep 16 '10 at 22:27
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Youface is good. It was featured on the WSJ site!

also SCNR ;)

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Hilarious but not on topic so no upvote for you. Did she say bing-banged? I'm not sure what that means but it sounds (interesting) dirty. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 2:33
    
Maybe she said big-banged referring to Big Bang Theory. Not dirty at all, very funny. Bazinga ! –  Miro A. Jul 10 '10 at 18:16
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Have you considered using your own site to host your material and using a social network, for example, facebook connect or google friend connect, to do the social network part of the site ( for example commenting )

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Yes, but I'd rather not waste the time and effort to re-invent the wheel. Plus, I'm not just trying use as just a component of a site. I'm looking for a central landing page to gain access to all of the third-party social sites in one place. webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/1912/… is about the closest working implementation I've seen so far. –  Evan Plaice Jul 8 '10 at 6:14
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There's something Microsoft have been pushing for a while, which I only assume never picked up - Windows Live Spaces. I think it has most of the features you mention, but I'm not 100% sure about all of them, especially the parts about integration.

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You could start your own: http://lovdbyless.com/

New social networks launch everyday, most start with the same basic features. Bloggers have wordpress, mephisto and other open source solutions. Lovd offers a free open source social network platform.

Built with Ruby on Rails, Lovd is a social networking solution that has everything you need to build your community.

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Take a look at The Fridge which is some sort of another kind of social network. It focuses around groups of people. Persons that are not in this group cannot see any information out of it (and don't even see that this group exists).

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Fridge has been devoured by Google......... –  Pacerier Mar 26 at 17:48
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