Facebook-killer start-up raises $100,000

A group of programming students from New York University have raised more than $100,000 to create an alternative to Facebook.

The creators of the open-source project, called Diaspora, raised the sum from donations using fundraising platform Kickstarter. But their plans have now begun to attract the attention of the venture capitalist world.

The 20-something programmers - Maxwell, Daniel, Raphael and Ilya - originally hoped to raise $10,000 by 1 June, so that they could spend their summer working on their social networking platform. But by around 1pm Eastern Daylight Time yesterday - just 12 days after they launched their appeal - the four had received ten times that figure. At the time of writing, donations had topped $129,000.

Calls for an open-source alternative to Facebook have increased since the social network announced changes to the privacy of user information in late April, with many users deleting their accounts in protest.

Diaspora isn’t openly declaring itself a Facebook-killer, but the project clearly owes its momentum to criticism aimed at the social networking giant. And by describing their project as "an open source personal web server that will put individuals in control of their data," its creators are clearly setting out their stall on privacy.

The programmers say they have a "rudimentary prototype" of Diaspora up and running, but have some way to go before they can launch a mass-market product.

"Right now," says the Diaspora team’s blog, "we have to finish school/graduate. Then, we are going to spend a week or two getting ready for three months of intense coding."