Hi! Ale here, core dev of Snake! I'll try to answer the issues you've pointed out!
That's a good question, since we're not used to have privacy in our conversations over the Internet. But we asked ourselves if it was possible to create a social network where the server stores, in a way it can understand, only the strictly required amount of information to offer the service. Or in other terms if there was a way to have a social network which respects the user privacy with technical guarantees.
Turns out it is! In Snake, all the information is encrypted before leaving your browser and decrypted when it comes back, so the server just stores apparently random data! That's end-to-end encryption, and it's well known among experts, but really few people use it. PGP is a good example, but it's too hard to set up for the average user, so we wanted to something similar but hiding all the technical details and offering a user interface similar to classic social networks.
If you have doubts, take a look at our website, or just write me by e-mail or Twitter (@snakedotli). Also, consider giving a small (or big!) contribution.
Snake [is different from Diaspora] (FAQ section) from a technical point of view (basically we're encrypted, they're not), but the real point it's that if you want real privacy on Diaspora you have to set up your own pod, and that's something your family is not going to do, right?
In Snake instead you just have to register to a website and you're ready, not even your e-mail address is required. Take a look at our blog post "Why yet another social network?".
If you like the idea, plase consider contributing to our crowdfunding campaign!
Well, we have some killer-features we have in mind, such as the first end-to-end encrypted online collaborative office suite (i.e. Google Docs-like service), which has never been done before and it's something businesses need a lot.
We thought about a P2P approach, but then dismissed it (take a look at our [FAQ]): a social network has very different requirements from a file sharing service. About paying, a lot of services are already working well just being based on donations, think of Diaspora, all the Jabber servers, GNU/Linux distributions and so on. Moreover our system is designed to keep all the load on the client, so the server has to do extremely simple operations, which makes it easier to scale at a low price.
For the fact that a lot of people is using Facebook, it's the network effect, and if we want something different we all have to deal with it, but extreme ease of use and a catchy UI will be a good starting point. Take a look at the above mentioned blog post, "Why yet another social network?".
I think this overly paranoid approach actually helps the NSA, since it puts you in a non-action state. I'm quite a paranoid, and for this reason I designed Snake. A P2P approach doesn't really help at all, P2P communications are being monitored too. Our storage server is not able to read the contents of your messages, and (if it uses our implementation) the NSA won't be even able to collect metadata from it, since we designed Snake in a way that the only metadata stored on the server don't leak anything useful to an attacker. For instance it's not possible to know who is the sender or the recipient of a message.
The best thing the NSA can do is breaking into a storage server and collect metadata by themselves. But that wouldn't work for past communications, and they would have to exfiltrate a huge amount of data, if they want to do it on large scale. Moreover they can do it also in a P2P environment, and more easily! Unless you use Tor, which would make it completely unscalable.
Also, we're going to release everything as Free Software, so feel free to verify there are no backdoors by yourself , if you want I'd suggest to take the 73 € perk which gives you direct access to the code before the open beta.
It's probably very hard to be safe if you're targeted by the NSA, but we can make it very hard for them to monitor enormous masses of people. Want to give us a hand?
That's the "overlay" approach, we discared it for a series of reasons, take a look at our FAQ
One problem at a time my friend, one problem at a time.
That was closed-source crap.
Thanks everyone for your interest! If you have further doubts just ask here, visit our website or write me. And if you like the project, please contribute, 2 € are more than welcome!