As Facebook Goes Public, Glassboard Wants All Your Data To Stay Private

Glassboard is a mobile app that looks a lot like Facebook did in it's early days: it's bland but its simple sharing features are meant to keep your data private.

Boonsri Dickinson, Associate Editor of BYTE

May 15, 2012

3 Min Read

As Facebook prepares to go public this week, polls have revealed most users distrust the social network. Well now, that's no way to make friends. But Facebook has been pretty transparent about its intentions after all -- if you're getting to use the service for free, then you are the product that the social network giant will then sell to advertisers.

If you have a problem with the privacy policies of Facebook, then you can always try out more private ways of sharing. For instance, Dave Morin, who developed the Facebook platform, went on to create a hot mobile-only, private network called Path.

Another app that goes beyond your social life is Glassboard , which makes sharing content privately similar to Facebook. The user says who gets to see the content.

Glassboard updated its Android and iPhone apps and added a web app to help you manage your data and messages.

The service is free and they say they "don't do ads." How they eventually intend to make money is not yet clear.

"This trend towards private social networking just means that people are finally starting to care about privacy", said Sepia Labs CEO Walker Fenton. Glassboard is the first app to come out of Sepia Labs.

"I think we've reached a tipping point whereby the Facebook generation is realizing that not everything needs to be shared. And what's also driving this trend, people are looking for apps and services that allow them to interact like they do in Facebook. Whether they are looking to connect with loved ones or business associates, older technologies like email, don't cut it anymore,' Walker Fenton said.

Every time someone posts a new comment or file, you get a notification like a text message. But the system doesn't use SMS, Fenton said. Also, the data stored on the board is encrypted.

"It's a pretty simple solution. What sets us apart is our privacy - boards are not discoverable, and only one person can invite others. That's why companies use us over a Path or GroupMe," he said.

The mobile app is for the iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone 7. The web app allows you to use a keyboard, but the interface on the web app is bland compared to the mobile app. You can post status updates and attach documents, photos, and videos with it. I tried the iPhone app and the web app. The uploads happened very quickly and I found the sharing process easy.

"We believe that social networking is defining the way we interact online - and as such there are lots of opportunities to help people interact in different contexts. Put another way, if you look at NewsGator at one end of the spectrum (really private), and Facebook at the other end (nothing private), we wanted to explore the space in between," Fenton said.

Sepia Labs is a spin-off of Newsgator, a leading enterprise social networking company.

"Yammer, like NewsGator, is focused on the enterprise, and primarily deployed inside an organization. We're focused on creating connections anywhere, with anyone," Fenton said.

See Byte's recent article on Good Technology how it is being used to secure secret communication.

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About the Author(s)

Boonsri Dickinson

Associate Editor of BYTE

Boonsri Dickinson is the Associate Editor of BYTE

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