Google is taking flak because of forcing people to join Google+ just so they can comment on a YouTube video, presumably so they can gather more personal data for their ad targetting. Facebook seems to take flak every week for yet another privacy abuse of its users. Twitter hasn’t been in trouble for ages.
It seems to me that when we can make open source office applications and open source operating systems, that an open source general purpose social networking platform should be perfectly feasible. On it, people would be able to keep in touch, share videos, messages, emails, pictures and text, hang out and chat using text or audio-video, comment generally to the world about anything, and could do so freely without having to give up their anonymity, or have to be bombarded with ads.
There can’t be a fundamental patent problem stopping it, because there are lots of sites that let people share videos and text and other kinds of files. There are so many ways to do it that any particular patent can be circumvented.
If our personal data is so useful, the platform could even provide a way of people collecting it for themselves and then selling it for a discount to any company they want to sell it to, but the initial value would be theirs, not some big company.
I did a quick search, search being something else that could become open source, running on distributed peer to peer networks, our own PCs essentially. Some open source social networking components already exist out there. All we should need is a few bits of sticky tape and glue to put them all together now, surely?
Isn’t it time to tell these big companies where to go and reclaim the net for ourselves?