Each node operates a copy of the Diaspora software acting as a personal web server.

The Diaspora software allows user posts to be designated as either "public" or "limited".

In the latter case, posts may only be read by people assigned to one of the groups, termed aspects, which the user has approved to view the post.

Each new account is assigned several default aspects – friends, family, work and acquaintances – and the user can add as many custom aspects as they like.

Diaspora (currently styled diaspora* and formerly styled DIASPORA*) is a nonprofit, user-owned, distributed social network that is based upon the free Diaspora software.

Diaspora consists of a group of independently owned nodes (called pods) which interoperate to form the network.

As of March 2014, there are more than The social network is not owned by any one person or entity, keeping it from being subject to corporate take-overs or advertising.

In September 2011 the developers stated, "..distributed design means no big corporation will ever control Diaspora.

Diaspora* will never sell your social life to advertisers, and you won’t have to conform to someone’s arbitrary rules or look over your shoulder before you speak." Diaspora software development is managed by the Diaspora Foundation, which is part of the Free Software Support Network (FSSN).

The FSSN is in turn run by Eben Moglen and the Software Freedom Law Center.

The FSSN acts as an umbrella organization to Diaspora development and manages Diaspora's branding, finances and legal assets.

The Diaspora social network is constructed of a network of nodes, or pods, hosted by many different individuals and institutions.