The version available to software developers since Wednesday is giving outsiders an opportunity to work on applications within its framework, ahead of a public launch due at a yet undisclosed later date.
"This is now a community project and development open to anyone with the technical expertise who shares the vision of a social network that puts users in control," said the founders at the project site www.joindiaspora.com.
Emphasis on privacy appears as a direct pull for the many complaints made about its giant rival in the field, and may serve as a tool to attract discontented users from Facebook's half-billion-strong population.
To set up Diaspora, the students made an appeal in May for donations through the site Kickstarter.com, a platform for projects to find investors.
Successful in their efforts, the founders collected over 200,000 dollars, including input from, mysteriously, Facebook boss and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.