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Diaspora co-founder dies at 22

Diaspora co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy has died at the age of 22. The cause of death is, as of yet, unknown.

Local media reports indicated that the young technologist may have committed suicide. The coroner’s office, however, said it would take several weeks to determine the precise cause of death.

Along with Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer, Zhitomirskiy created the open-source Facebook alternative as a response to the social networking giant’s privacy changes in 2010.

According to Mashable, the team had managed to put together around US$200 000 on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

News of the young tech innovator’s death first broke on TechCrunch. Blogger Greg Kumpark seems to have been personally affected by the death.

“The news is incredibly jarring, to the point that much else I could say escapes me,” he said, adding that “to see any member of our community pass is sad, but for one so young to go is absolutely crushing”.

The Diaspora home page featured a picture of a dandelion alongside an image of Zhitomirskiy sitting in a university classroom.

“We’ll all miss Ilya more than we can say,” Diaspora co-founder Peter Schurman said in a statement.

“Ilya was a great friend and a brilliant person, a visionary whose work for a better future online brought hope to many people,” he continued.

According to Schurman, public memorial services are being planned for San Francisco and Philadelphia, with details to be released once arrangements are finalised.

“In life, Ilya brought people together,” Schurman said. “In death, he would have wanted the same thing.”

Disapora has attracted significant attention for its stringent privacy policy, which claims to put control of the social network in the hands of the users. “Diaspora doesn’t make you wade through pages of settings and options just to keep your profile secure,” the company’s website says.


Zhitomirskiy discussing Diaspora’s opinion on privacy and social networks.
Date Unknown

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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