April 18, 2019

6 Open Source Social Networking Projects

Flock, Elgg, Jcow

  • October 18, 2010
  • By Eric Geier
The big social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all us open source software to power their services. Eric Geier rounds up a batch of open source social networking projects that you can deploy in your own organization, plus one open source social networking aggregator.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn have taken off. They are now among the top sites visited among the entire World Wide Web. As you might have guessed, the open source community has some involvement in the social networking space.

There are basically two types of applications when it comes to social networking. On the user side, there are aggregator applications that gives users access to multiple sites from one application. Then there are applications that serve as development platforms for creating social networking sites.

Here is a list of 6 open source projects: one aggregator and five development platforms:

Flock Social Web Browser

This social network aggregator is basically a web browser with a built-in sidebar. The sidebar is where all the social power is--where you can view and post to multiple social accounts.

Prior Flock releases (2.x) were based on Mozilla and include support for more services and have much more functionality. The most current (3.x) release is based on Google's Chromium. It includes performance enhancements but only supports Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. However, additional features can be added with Chrome extensions and some of the removed features may be added again in the future.

Flock runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. It's actually made to easily run on multiple machines. You can create a Flock account to hold your settings and preferences so they can be accessed when installing Flock on additional computers.


This powerful open source social networking engine is one of the most popular development platforms. Its built to run on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) platform. It offers blogging, microblogging, file sharing, networking, groups, and numerous other features. There are over 900 plugins you can download and install to add additional functionality, languages and themes.

If you don't want to run your own server, Elgg provides a list of companies that specialize in Elgg hosting.

Check out their live demo of what a production site might look and feel like. You can also get an idea of what's involved in the installation and configuration by reading the documentation.


This development tool touts it can help you start a social network in minutes, and seems more friendly to novice developers. It installs on a hosted web server or your own running PHP5 and MySQL4/5. It's offered in three different editions.

Although all three Jcow editions include 100% of the source code, only one is released free under a open source license. The two other editions are priced at $119 and $149. These editions provide additional functionality, with branding customization given in the highest-priced edition.

All Jcow editions come with the core features and modules: Profile pages, Blogs, Photos, Videos, Musics, and Events. You can purchase additional modules for community or fan pages, customizable profile pages, discussion forums, and groups.

Check out their live demo to see the end-user interfaces. You can also read through the documentation.

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