Facebook may stride like a Goliath over the social networking marketplace, but there's a bunch of Davids readying their slingshots, hoping that the behemoth's latest privacy controversy has left users ready to jump ship. “A year ago, nobody was interested in my project,” the developer of Appleseed, an open-source social networking software platform, tells the New York Times. “Now, I have about 80 supporters signed up.”
Analysts are cautious about the prospects of these start-ups, since Facebook has survived privacy backlashes before. But “Facebook is pushing the edge of users' comfort zone,” one says. “It has certainly planted a seed in some users' minds to look for an exit door.” Of course, Facebook knows that, too, and says it's simplifying its dizzying, 170-option-strong privacy controls. “The messages we've received are pretty clear,” says a spokesman.