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Diaspora Co-Founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy Dies; Suicide Suspected

Respectance [dot] com(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the co-founder of a new social networking service called Diaspora, has died in San Francisco at the age of 22.

His death was "a possible suicide,” Officer Albie Esparza of the San Francisco Police Department told ABC News in a telephone interview.  She said police were first called on Saturday night.

According to Esparza, the case has been referred to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office, which might need a couple of days to finish tests and confirm what had happened.

Zhitomirskiy was one of four schoolmates from New York University who started Disaspora in 2010.  They billed it as a site that was less centralized and more private than social network giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Diaspora was designed to not even have its own servers -- the computer banks that a centralized website uses to store users’ data.

“Diaspora makes sharing clean and easy -- and this goes for privacy too,” said the founders on Diaspora’s homepage.  “Inherently private, Diaspora doesn’t make you wade through pages of settings and options just to keep your profile secure.”

On Monday, even as word of Zhitomirskiy’s death spread, Diaspora announced it was inviting users to try a new, redesigned experimental version of the service.

A memorial site has been set up at

One visitor there wrote, “Thanks Ilya for Diaspora. You will always be remembered, missed and loved.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio