I’ve been reading with interest the news that Path.com, a new social network, has launched this week. Founded by Napster’s Shawn Fanning and ex-Facebook executive David Morin, the site is already drawing lots of attention in the social networking industry and the online media.

Currently only available as a free download from the iPhone app store, Path is designed to allow people to share their experiences through photographs; users take snaps on their smartphone and then tag them before sharing them with their friends.

Billed as ‘The Personal Network’, Path restricts each user to having only 50 friends at any given time, meaning that only your closest family and friends can see what you’ve been up to and where you’ve been. Photos can be shared but there’s no functionality to attract ‘followers’, or ‘retweet’, or even comment.

Path.com has launched as an alternative to other social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook

This approach is distinctly different from the culture of Facebook, Twitter and the like, where a person’s standing is often measured by the amount of friends and followers that they have.

Some are already calling Path an ‘anti-social’ network although, if you’re invited to view someone’s profile on Path, you can be flattered that you are considered to be a close friend indeed (well, you’re in that person’s top 50 at least!)

Despite tighter controls on Facebook, there’s no doubt that the rise of social networking has encouraged many people to be less reserved about what they put online. Hilarious – and sometimes jaw-dropping – examples on sites like Lamebook.com and FacebookFails.com demonstrate the folly of people who have perhaps been a bit too open in sharing their personal lives, so Path could be a welcome antidote.

The decision to launch Path exclusively as an Apple app will undoubtedly restrict its usage; as an Android phone user I’m frustrated that I can’t try it out for myself. Until the service is fully rolled out and developed it’s difficult to predict what the take up will be but I’ll certainly be watching its development with interest!

Get Path from the iTunes App store

What are your thoughts on this new way of social networking? Will you be signing up to use Path? Let us know your opinions by leaving a comment below. Plus, don’t forget to vote in our social networking poll opposite!