November 15th, 2011 05:57 AM
SAN FRANCISCO—A 22-year-old co-founder of privacy-themed online social network Diaspora died during the weekend, the San Francisco coroner confirmed on Monday.
Local media reports indicated that Ilya Zhitomirskiy may have committed suicide, but the coroner’s office said it will take several weeks to determine the cause of death.
Zhitomirskiy was one of four US college students who launched Diaspora last year in a bid to win fans as an easier, more private alternative to social networking powerhouse Facebook.
Mysteriously, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was reportedly among those who financially backed Diaspora.
The fledgling social network’s home page at diasp.org on Monday featured a picture of a giant dandelion going to seed next to an image of Zhitomirskiy seated in a classroom. Beneath the image was his name and “1989-2011.”
Diaspora expressed its sadness in a short Twitter message that included a link to a story about Zhitomirskiy’s apparent suicide on Saturday.
Zhitomirskiy and three fellow students at New York University built Diaspora as a “privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, open source social network.”
Diaspora opened to software developers in September of last year and a version of the online network went public two months later.