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Openbook: an open source anti-Facebook without user tracking

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If you no longer want Facebook tracking, Openbook may be right for you.

Openbook is the name of the next social network to compete with Facebook. And if you’re tired of the way Facebook uses (but doesn’t sell) your data to target advertising, you might be interested.

Indeed, as the Financial Times reports, which reveals this new project, the creators of this future platform want to do better than Facebook regarding data protection. First of all, the site will be open source, which means that it will be possible to analyze its code to study how it works. And unlike Facebook, OpenBook will not track its users, and will not earn money through advertising.

Other differences could distinguish OpenBook from its rival with 2 billion users. “It’s really about building a social network that respects the privacy of its users, that’s the main driver for me. But we realized that if we wanted to succeed, we needed to bring more to the table, we didn’t just want to build a Facebook clone,” said Joel Hernandez, the boss of the new initiative. According to the FT, he would have liked to create a less invasive alternative to Facebook long ago but would have decided to act now to take advantage of the Cambridge Analytica effect on public opinion regarding privacy. He would plan to bring more customizations and elements that will make OpenBook “more fun.”

The Openbook initiative is also supported by Philip Zimmermann, the inventor of the PGP encryption program.

A marketplace to replace advertising

To make money, OpenBook will adopt a different business model than Facebook. Indeed, instead of using user data to target advertising, it should launch a kind of marketplace on which it will be possible to sell (and through which Openbook can charge commissions).

But for now, the initiative will first have to go through the crowdfunding box. Indeed, instead of a classic fundraiser, its creators have decided to launch a participatory fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, which should start Tuesday. If all goes well, the first to access the Openbook beta should be the contributors to this campaign.

Secondly, Openbook could also take advantage of the data portability imposed by the DGMS to allow new users to transfer their personal information from Twitter or Facebook to the new platform.

If the idea of creating an alternative to Facebook with more privacy can only be laudable, it also remains to be seen whether the mass will adopt this new platform. Other sites have already tried to make their place in the social networking landscape. But most of these have failed. We could cite the example of 800 pound Gorilla, an open source and decentralized Twitter rival who made the buzz for a week, before falling into oblivion.