Michael Powers wants to do what so many others have failed to do: build an online social network that’s outside the grip of any one company — and that people like you will actually use.
We’ve seen countless underground hackers build decentralized alternatives to Facebook and Twitter over the years, but so far these open source contraptions have failed to attract anything close to the number of people who use Facebook and Twitter and other commercial services almost constantly. But Powers, a serial entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C., thinks he can finally crack the code.
His project is called Trsst, a name that’s meant to engender a sense of trust, and after a summer when NSA leaker Edward Snowden opened the curtain on modern government surveillance, the Trsst message is particularly timely. “The PRISM revelations have made people more concerned about privacy and security,” Powers says. “So now is the time to give people an alternative.”