The version available to software developers since Wednesday is giving outsiders an opportunity to work on applications within its framework, ahead of a public launch due at a yet undisclosed later date.
"This is now a community project and development open to anyone with the technical expertise who shares the vision of a social network that puts users in control," said the founders at the project site joindiaspora.com
Billed as the "privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, open source social network," New York University programmers Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy showed off the site's sleek white and gray interface with icons representing users, much like on Facebook.
Emphasis on privacy appears as a direct pull for the many complaints made about its giant rival in the field, and may serve as a tool to attract discontented users from Facebook's half-billion-strong population.
To set up Diaspora, the students made an appeal in May for donations through the site Kickstater.com, a platform for projects to find investors.
Successful in their efforts, the founders collected over 200,000 dollars, including input from, mysteriously, Facebook boss and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.