A proud status update of your former classmate informs you of the birth of her offspring. Your colleague posts pictures of his travels, and the next family meeting is also being planned via Facebook. Everthing is for free, but not without cost. Facebook is making money from your profile data and usage statistics. If you’re not paying for it, you probably are the product being sold.

In the end, all of your data gets stored and processed for infinity in Facebook’s database. And Facebook keeps coming up with new tricks to use your data the way they like. This earned it more and more public criticism and even a BigBrotherAward in 2011.

Google+ promises to be an alternative, but in reality it is not different from Facebook. The user is the cattle that produces the milk and the meat. The cattle is supposed to flourish, but it has no say in deciding what to do with the milk, or how the stable should look like.

A few unfaltering users of the net have got together to create a better alternative. But as of now, there are several approaches, each with its up- and downsides. All of these are only being noticed by relatively few people. Social Swarm is an open think tank trying to come up with precise requirements for a social communications infrastructure the way we all need. We want to concentrate the development efforts of the community, to build a solution fulfilling these requirements.

It is important to use free software and a decentralized approach, so we are independent of centralized infrastructure and software we cannot control. We also need strong end-to-end encryption and privacy by design, so there are no central all-encompassing databases. Centralization happened at factories with the workforce and at banks with the money, resulting in an imbalance of power. We have to prevent it happening again on the information frontier with the Faceboogles!

We want a social network deserving of the word “social”. We want to shape this together with other people and organisations. We want to find the right criteria how our network should look like. We want to explore and implement possibilities. Once the network is ready to go, we are going to launch a large scale change-over campaign.

For all of this, we need your help. You can find our mailing lists and wiki at socialswarm.net. We want a social swarm. Join us!