Ex-MySpace Music CTO Dmitry Shapiro has a big idea: he is building a real Facebook competitor. One that puts privacy first and profiteering in a distant last.It’s called Altly, and it has Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s money behind it.
Shapiro wants to create a transparent alternative to Facebook where users have direct control over privacy settings and advertising, and precise control over the messages they send and data they upload.
There’s a basic prototype that investors have seen, but there’s no working service thus far. We’ll probably have to wait a while, but Altly could be worth it. We haven’t seen many true Facebook competitors, so this story should at least be interesting to watch.
He hates the way Facebook tracks your movements all over the web (using Facebook Comment integration and Facebook Connect), and he hates the way Facebook stores every message and wall post you ever send.
He sees it all as a problem to solve, and if things go his way, Facebook might have to swing back with more transparent privacy settings in order to stifle the new startup and the bad PR it’s trying to create.
Shapiro wrote a Bible-length treatise containing reasons why he’s starting the new company, and we’ll break down the most important points for you:
- “There are NO serious alternatives at this time. For every Coke there is a Pepsi, for everyFord there is a Chevy, for every PC there is a Mac and for every Facebook there is…. a void! Facebook has such overwhelming power that practically no one believes that trying to build an alternative is possible.”
- “Facebook’s privacy settings are so complex that even advanced users have a hard time configuring them, understanding who can see what, and Facebook continues to change its privacy settings without first alerting users, creating serious problems with serious consequences.”
- Shapiro hates the fact that people are Facebook friends with people they aren’t really friends with. Preach it to Path.
- “Facebook makes it difficult to configure privacy settings and to target messages towards specific groups of “friends”, therefore encouraging us to broadcast our activity to every one of our “friends”.” This is bad, according to Shapiro.
- “Facebook EXERTS its power over how we communicate and is FORCING social norms to change.”
- “While we would NEVER think of audio recording all of our private conversations with our friends and loved ones, and leaving those recordings around for perusal, Facebook records all of our private messages, chats, comments, and status updates, and makes it extremely difficult to delete such communications”
- “Facebook, by forcing our communications to be more and more public, creates an environment where they can allow advertisers to better “target” advertising to us.”
- Using Facebook Connect, “Facebook then captures some of your activity on these other sites and associates it with your profile, creating a history of many things that you do across the web.”
- “There IS value in having content personalised for us based on our prior behaviour, and the behaviour of our friends, BUT we should have the capability to easily understand how and what is being personalised and the ability to turn these personalizations and tracking of our behaviour off.”
And now for Shapiro’s call to action, his alternative, straight from the website:
- Privacy is ULTIMATELY important.
- We should know EXACTLY who can see what information about us.
- Control of our information should be in OUR hands, and it should be EXTREMELY easy for us to control it.
- WE should choose what information is stored, how long it is kept, and who it is available to.
- Our digital life, our personal information is EXTREMELY valuable, and each of us should not only control who has access to it, but BENEFIT from it.
- Advertisers should be part of our community, but should NOT have an unfair advantage over us.
- All of our data should be OURS, and no one else’s. If we choose to leave our social network, we should be able to easily take ALL of our data with us, and COMPLETELY delete all data if we choose.
- If other social networks should be developed, they should be able to interoperate with one another.
We reached out to Shapiro and he had this to say:
“I LOVE Facebook, but don’t love their vision of privacy and information control. I have nothing against Zuckerberg. He is executing on his vision of the way the world should be (everything public). I simply disagree, and believe that privacy is ultimately important to the human race, and without an alternative we will all be forced to live our lives without privacy.”
As All Things D reports, Shapiro is a feisty entrepreneur. He previously worked on Veoh (a video-streaming site which got killed by YouTube) and Akonix (an instant messaging company bought by Quest) before working for Myspace Music.
If you buy Shapiro’s idea, head over to Altly’s website now to reserve your username before the service launches.
Don’t Miss: Path Launches To Save You From Facebook
(via All Things D)