As far as I can tell there are three major options for an open replacement for Facebook: Buddycloud, Diaspora, and Friendica. I’m starting with Friendica since I already have an account, which I randomly set up a few months ago. There are a few public sites where you can sign up to use Friendica for free, and mine is at http://kakste.com.
The website design is clunky and not especially attractive, but that’s the easiest thing to fix, so it’s not very important. I spent quite a lot of time playing with the settings. Here are the results:
– You can set it up so your posts to Friendica are automatically sent to Facebook.
– You can make it so posts that would normally turn up on your Facebook main page, also show up on Friendica.
– You can set your Friendica account to be either publicly visible or visible only to friends, but I wasn’t able to do this on a post-by-post basis.
– You can also automatically sent your Friendica posts to an impressive list of external services, including WordPress, Twitter, StatusNet, Dreamwidth and LiveJournal.
Conclusion: The really great thing is that you don’t ever have to go to facebook.com again if you don’t want to, you can use Friendica instead without missing anything.
Syndicating everything to Facebook isn’t great in terms of privacy, since (I’m pretty sure) Facebook’s terms of service (short version: WE OWN EVERYTHING / WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE WANT) apply to syndicated posts the same as normal posts. Facebook still tracks what you post about and who your friends are, and still sells that info to third parties. So this is really just a symbolic exit from Facebook. But it still feels good. It feels like this is how a massive shift from closed social networks to open ones could start.
Mission status: PROMISING