Over at TechCrunch, Marshall Kirkpatrick compares version 3 of Multiply, with SixApart's recently launched, Vox. Both social networking sites differentiate themselves from the likes of MySpace, by giving users powerful privacy controls, so that they can choose exactly who is able to access their content.
It's in this key area where Multiply comes out on top:
Privacy settings are the key issue according to both companies. Posts on Vox can be made visible to anyone, to just friends, to just family, to friends and family or just to you yourself. Multiply allows more granular control: your friends, their friends and their friends, your family, their family and their family, your professional contacts, their professional contacts and their professional contacts, only direct contacts in either friend, family or professional contexts or only particular individuals added from contact lists importable from outside software. That’s quite a list of options and the interface makes it very workable.
That's not to say that Multiply's granular approach (as Kirkpatrick calls it), doesn't have its limitations:
If you want to share something only with your family and their family, but not one more circle of family - well then I guess you’re out of luck. Sliders instead of check boxes could be useful.
Being able share content with people one or more steps removed from your circle of contacts, is a much needed feature, but I'd like to see users given even more control, through the ability to set up user-defined groups, beyond pre-determined categories such as 'friends' or 'family'.
Privacy, and giving users more control over their data, will likely become an increasingly important element of social networks - and as Kirkpatrick concludes, Multiply and Vox are evidence that in this space, there's life beyond MySpace et al:
... this sector is not just about MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, there is plenty of room still for more and better social networking services.