RantFever 4

I pontificate but not in the pejorative sense of the word.

Private Social Networks

Posted 6 January 2015
Written by Abinadi Ayerdis
Category PHP

I recently had the idea of creating a private social network for my family. That way we could share photos and events in a Facebook-style way without having to bother with personal information being viewed publicly or with having a large corporation storing our whole private lives. I think I had the idea while reading about Diaspora.


Diaspora was written in Ruby by four students. As memory serves, they raised a lot of money to create a Facebook alternative that would respect your privacy settings. But they learned the hard way that it is really hard to make a better Facebook. Eventually they gave up, open sourced their app, and moved on to other things.


It turns out that a little Google-Fu can bring up a healthy number of choices if you want to run your own private social network. Their are hosted solutions as well as open source solutions and they run the gamut in difficulty to use as well as features available. Here are a few that drew my eye:

  • Diaspora - written in Ruby; open source; not my cup of tea
  • Yammer - business centered; no self-hosting; free option with limited features
  • SocialEngine - cool; cool and pricey
  • BuddyPress - based on WordPress; free (as in beer); free (as in speech); kinda cool, but I'm not a huge WP fan
  • HumHub - written in PHP; open source; still in beta

And the winner is...

I decided to go with HumHub. I bought a domain and installed it. So far so good... However, it is still far from a 1.x release. And it shows. I am considering writing a module or two for it. It could certainly use the help.


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