The mystery surrounding the death of Ilya #Zhitomirskiy

August 28, 2014

In times of mass storage and surveillance, the demand grows for anonymity on the Internet. Commercial social medias such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are widely used. However, most people post irrelevancies or simply like a status without contributing any thought regarding the post. Others just want to share highlights and pictures—again it is not significant in the grand scheme nor truly important to anybody else. The question at hand is whether or not one may crosslink anonymously?

One of the alternatives to Facebook, is Diaspora. This social network is based on an open source which means that the databases are not stored in one unit or area for another purpose, such as spying or tapping. The communication between mutually interested groups is paramount. There is no advertising nor any sponsored links. It is truly unconventional and it is non-commercial.

One of the founders of this network called Diaspora was Ilya Zhitomirskiy. A brilliant young man who allegedly took his own life on 12/11/2011. Zhitomirskiy was born in1989 in Moscow. He then emigrated with his parents to the United States of America. In the States, he had a successful University career—studied mathematics, business administration and computer science. Obviously he had a clever and brilliant mind and therefore realized, along with his fellow co-founders Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer Diaspora that there was a demand for an alternative to Facebook.
The Initial spark was now not the complaints nor suspicions about Facebook amongst other bright students, instead it was but a lecture by Eben Moglen. Professor Moglen is a law professor at Columbia Universitiy, who founded, among other things, the Software Freedom Law Center, about the threat of privacy by commercial Internet services.

Zhitomirskiy was wise and decided to head his own project. He then drove forward with this project instead of pursuing scientific career. He decided rather, to do something that creates freedom. Professor Moglen saw in him the most idealistic of the four founders. Was his passion and idealism his undoing?

Zhitomirskiy died at the tender age of 22—shortly before the public beta version of Diaspora went online. The cause of death was never clearly resolved. Some speak of suicide caused by depression. A smart young man standing at the beginning of his career takes his own life is mind-blowing to many. Depression is indeed a reason for suicide and it is most often the case that even highly intelligent people suffer from depression. However, this is by no means proven. Therefore this is speculation.

The investigative journalist George Hunt sensed the same suspicion and assumes that Zhitomirskiy was killed. In various videos he tries to solve the mystery surrounding the death of Zhitomirsky. He keeps suicide out of the question and pursues an objective evaluation of Zhitomirskiy’s death.

In Germany, remarkably little has been spoken about the death of the aspiring entrepreneur. This is probably due to the fact that the network at time of death was hardly known. Additionally, during 2011 Facebook grew in popularity in Germany, and finally the German competitors StudiVz, MeinVz and who-knows-who were displaced from the market. The only major competitors Twitter and Google+.

Overall, this is all very bizarre. It could simply be a coincidence but many people are wise to think that there is not any such thing as coincidence. The network Diaspora is very personable and you can get a lot of information, and it is completely anonymous and does not have advertising. The fact remains that a young modern hero died and the story was silenced. Rest in peace, Ilya!

Translatet by Victoria Parker (USA)ilya


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