An open source alternative to Facebook - called Diaspora - has gone live.
The "privacy-aware" social network was founded earlier this year during a period when Facebook came under fire for its privacy settings.
The community-funded project is currently only open to a small number of invited people.
Analysts have questioned whether the network can ever challenge more established sites such as Facebook, which now boasts nearly 600m members.
Diaspora (screen shot -pic) says it hopes to begin adding more people in the coming weeks.
"By taking these baby steps, we'll be able to quickly identify performance problems and iterate on features as quickly as possible," the four US students behind the service wrote in a blog post.
The team say they will continue to refine the site in response to feedback.
"Our number one goal has been releasing something that works. Sometimes that means making a bit of a mess
BBC News : 24 Nov 2010