Diaspora co-founder commits suicide at 22

By on November 14, 2011, 5:00 PM

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of Diaspora's four founders, died over the weekend at just 22 years of age. Sources close to the company confirmed the death was a suicide but it may take weeks for an official determination.

Billed as an open alternative to Facebook, Diaspora was intended to be in direct opposition to the proprietary nature of the largest social network ever. The intention was to create a social network that was open and gave users full control over their privacy. 

The project came at a very opportune time in the spring of 2010, when Facebook was the subject of considerable backlash due to its privacy blunders. The founders, four students from New York University, took a stab at funding the project through micro-lending site, Kickstarter. Thanks to public unrest regarding Facebook, their goal of $10,000 was met in less than two weeks. A month later, Disapora had raised over $200,000 and the project was well under way. Ironically, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was one of the major contributors. Zuckerberg praised the project and said he admired their drive to make a change.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy was described as a "hard-core" programmer who was deeply involved with the Diaspora project and was passionate about making an impact on improving privacy on the web.

The buzz surrounding Diaspora has waned as the months have flown by, but the foundation remains active and committed to its goals of a non-centralized social network where users rule. If you would like to donate to the project, you can do so here.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy shares his views on social networking




User Comments: 30

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Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What a shame...

ikesmasher said:

Not really the type of person that would commit suicide. just my two cents. When, you know, your project has reached that level of support.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Lol, I knew my comment would get deleted.

It is a shame, indeed. Although it is a bit hard trying to feel sympathetic when you know so little of both the man and his project. I do remember trying to join Diaspora, but it was in closed beta, so couldn't. I eventually forgot it even existed. Hard to join a social network when none of your friends are there.

But it is a bit disconcerting. Diaspora might not have been a rising Google+, but the project looks it has the support. I have to wonder what made this man take his own life? :/

Guest said:

Well that's one way of getting publicity to your website... kill yourself sukerbuerg bust be glad he didn't have to try that.

Emin3nce said:

Guest said:

well that's one way of getting publicity to your website... kill your self sukerbuerg bust be glad he didn't have to try that

You win the award for most insensitive comment, most misguided judgement AND the failed spelling awards.

Have a cookie.

veLa veLa said:

ikesmasher said:

Not really the type of person that would commit suicide. just my two cents. When, you know, your project has reached that level of support.

I think in that photo it's clear he's depressed.

RH00D RH00D said:

At first glance he really doesn't seem like the type of person to kill himself but you have to remember that saying "people are like icebergs", what we know about him is only the tip, there is so much more that we are not seeing that he could have been going through. R.I.P.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

ikesmasher said:

Not really the type of person that would commit suicide. just my two cents. When, you know, your project has reached that level of support.

Are you saying that knowing a lot about about his personal life and mental state, or is this some stupid attempt at a conspiracy theory?

caravel said:

Very sad news.

R.I.P.

wcbert said:

For me it is always sad to read about young people taking their own life as there is so much potential to do something and now it is lost.

moncada said:

very sad.. R.I.P.

Guest said:

It's sad to hear of a young man die, but he achieved a lot in his lifetime and will be remembered for his intelligence. RIP.

ikesmasher said:

gwailo247 said:

ikesmasher said:

Not really the type of person that would commit suicide. just my two cents. When, you know, your project has reached that level of support.

Are you saying that knowing a lot about about his personal life and mental state, or is this some stupid attempt at a conspiracy theory?

Neither. Simply stating that someone with a dream and that kind of support wouldnt really commit suicide. Unless there IS something wrong with his personal life, which in most cases would be completely obvious to his friends/family.

Guest said:

He was almost exactly my age. What a waste.

Guest said:

So Sad, I had only joined DIASPORA recently and feel horrible.

Guest said:

You are a horrible person to say such a thing!

Guest said:

Well its called business if there is competion.......what do you do? take them out or buy them if you cant buy them.......u hire some one greed and power

Guest said:

I feel sorry for the community. I first saw diaspora last year and thought these four young students have such a bright future ahead of them. It's a shame.

Guest said:

Cripes, a lot of inane comments here.

Who knows why he did it? Certainly not people who have never known him.

What do you mean a person with a dream can't commit suicide? That's extremely naive. People are more complex than "have a bright future => happy; cannot commit suicide".

Either way, terribly sad news and a huge waste of a life. 22 is nothing, he had his entire life in front of him. I guess he found peace from whatever was tormenting him. RIP and condolences to his family and friends.

Guest said:

No, it is not obvious to friends and family when someone is depressed and suffering. Most of the time everyone is surprised by a suicide because it wasn't obvious. The yellow flags can be very subtle. .

This is such a tragedy, there must be more to the story but we may never know. Have some compassion people.

Guest said:

Well, I wonder what the CEO of Friendster is thinking about right now.

Guest said:

Totally interested in the toxicology test results.

Guest said:

A few of the posters could just relax on the "I'm gonna push this first before it pushes me" type of comments.

Anyone who commits suicide is extremely tortured by something that is not for us to understand. It was for him, and is always for anyone, a personal choice.

If some of you who can't at least have compassion, try to understand that you don't get to decide when the worse day of your life will be.

Some who will try to conclude as to what drove this young man to do it are the same who are unable to come to terms with ever accepting something that is out of their control.

You must have respect in his decision that, even though it must have been more obvious to him than us that his future would have been promising, his judgement was his own.

Guest said:

This headline is incorrect. As stated in the text, Ilya's death has not been officially declared a suicide. Whatever happened to guidelines, ethics and objectivity in reporting? Oh, right, all the media outlets have been bought and paid for. Apparently this one as well.

And, like others on this forum, I also question the likelihood of suicide when his project was just getting underway and was receiving such support. Seems like there are many big money interests that would benefit from sabotaging a social network where the information is not for sale.

Just my 2.

Guest said:

Well, with suicide he can't be buried in a jewish cemetary. Now he has to be buried with the goyim. ewwwwwwwww.

Guest said:

Agree. Especially when that kind of money is around, it's odd. It seems way too easy to say "Oh, he must not have been able to handle whatever the pressure was," or "Oh he must have been depressed." Listen to the video and he just doesn't have the suicide vibe.

Guest said:

suicide is an attempt to punish those you work with (or love) for rejection; be it an idea (or jilted love). Too bad, we needed more like him.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

suicide is an attempt to punish those you work with (or love) for rejection.
OMG, are you stupid or what. Please think about your comments before you post them.

I've been around several suicides over the years and non of them were attempts at punishing others. Some grew tired of waking up in the morning. Others where heart broken and felt life wasn't worth living. Couple of them were a mystery as nobody really could figure out the motive behind it. Never have I heard of someone committing suicide out of anger, which is what you are suggesting. I have even been locked up for threatening suicide to draw attention. That doesn't mean I would have actually done it though.

Someone has to be severely hurt emotionally and in a state of not caring about life (In my case afterlife) before they could actually finish the act of committing suicide.

miska_man said:

Emin3nce said:

Guest said:

well that's one way of getting publicity to your website... kill your self sukerbuerg bust be glad he didn't have to try that

You win the award for most insensitive comment, most misguided judgement AND the failed spelling awards.

Have a cookie.

^This.

Also, RIP to Ilya Zhitomirskiy.

Guest said:

suspicious.

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