Ning Closing Free Networks: Blow to Anonymity

I’m sure many of you have seen the announcement that Ning will be closing down the free side of their social network platform.

The news hit me personally, as I have been using Ning to host a social network for child abuse survivors. One of the biggest reasons I choose that platform, as opposed to using an existing social network like Facebook, was the ability that gave members to choose whether they wanted to use their real identity, or create an anonymous one. I know many survivors, including myself, don’t mind being publicly identified as a survivor, but many don’t. So, using something like a Facebook fan page, which I have for that site, wouldn’t work for everyone.

Ning solves that problem, because I was able to create a network that required nothing more than an email address to sign up, and didn’t require any sort of personal identity to be given. I felt like that gave folks the most privacy that I could, but now that Ning is eliminating the free service, I don’t really see myself paying for the privilege. So, there’s one less option for those wanting to be involved in social networking around a specific topic, while remaining anonymous.

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Of course, I’ve always known that having the network on a third-party site meant that I might have to deal with this, but I didn’t think it was going to be now. 😉

So, I’m considering my options. I might check out Buddypress on that site. Anyone used that before? What did you think? That might provide a way to help survivors communicate online with each other without having to identify themselves, or I could give up that ideal and focus my energies on the Facebook page.

Have you been using Ning networks? Will you miss the option, or simply move all your group interactions to Facebook, LinkedIn or other platforms?