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Ilya Zhitomirskiy

November 15, 2011 by staff 

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the co-founders of Facebook-alternative Diaspora, died Saturday night at the age of 22.

A spokesman for the San Francisco medical examiner’s office confirmed the death of Zhitomirskiy to FoxNews.com, originally reported Sunday by popular tech news blog TechCrunch. He was unable to confirm reports that the young man committed suicide.

Confirmation of the final cause of death could take weeks, he said.

Peter Schurman, a Diaspora spokesman, declined to comment on specific details but acknowledged Zhitomirskiy’s death. “We’re all very sad that Ilya has passed away,” Schurman told FoxNews.com.

The New York University graduate was struggling to launch his social network Diaspora — an open-source social network Zhitomirskiy started building with classmates Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer early last year. Their goal was to provide an idealistic Facebook alternative with an emphasis on user control and privacy.

The team struggled with money as it worked to release its website, despite quickly raising $200,000 in funding through venture capitalists and microfinance startup Kickstarter after being featured in The New York Times.

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