New Delhi: It’s safe to say that Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate the social media scene. However, that reign hasn’t been all that smooth, to say the least. That’s the reason why users have been searching for alternatives to the overly-popular networks and cashing in on their failings, many new social media networks have cropped up as well.
After Mastodon which created quite a buzz in India last week, there’s a new social media kid on the block.
Challenging Facebook and Twitter’s dominance, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has now launched a new social-media website named “WT: Social” to bring about a change. Released for public only last month, the platform aims to make consumer the ‘king’, and promises meaningful content.
The platform which has so far amassed 100,000 users, says on its website, ”As social networks have grown, they’ve also amplified the voices of bad actors across the globe. Fake news has influenced global events, and algorithms care only about “engagement”, and keeping people addicted to platforms without substance.”
How is it different from Facebook and Twitter?
Intending to get right what Facebook and Twitter have so far been getting wrong, Wales hopes the new website will combat ‘clickbait’ and the menace of fake news which has plagued social media platforms. Also, unlike other social media websites, this news-focused platform will be ‘ad-free’, meaning it will be be funded by public donations. Simply put, the company will run the business with the money given by the users, challenging the ad-funded models normalized by Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
“We will never sell your data. Our platform survives on the generosity of individual donors to ensure privacy is protected and your social space is ad-free,” states the website.
As a result, what will happen is that WT:Social will put the newest links first unlike Facebook and Twitter, whose algorithms ensure that the posts with the most comments or likes rise to the top. But, over time, WT:Social will introduce an ‘upvote’ button so that users can elevate quality content.
Also no ads, mean that users won’t have to worry about the site collecting their personal data.
”Instead of optimizing our algorithm to addict you and keep you clicking, we will only make money if you voluntarily choose to support us—which means that our goal is not clicks but actually being meaningful to your life,” Wales said in a post about the project.
Moreover, it gives the ultimate power to users as they will get to decide what they want to see. They can also directly edit misleading headlines and flag posts that are problematic..
What is the website all about?
WT: Social is actually a news-centric social media website where you can create an account just like Facebook. The site will revolve around a central news feed that’ll show you content from communities or discussion groups ‘SubWikis’ that you join.
However, as of now, the website involves signing up for a wait list. But if you aren’t keen on waiting, you can go ahead and ‘donate’ to support the site. Those who commit to making a $12.99 monthly (or $100 annual) donation will get immediate access. Once, you have joined the site, you will be able to share links and discuss articles pertaining to a wide range of topics.
Aiming to attract people who are willing to pay for ‘meaningful’ content, Wales hopes that the numbers on the website will eventually grow.
The responses, so far have been welcome, with the platform generating curiosity among users:
This new experiment of Wales is not out of the blue. Two years ago, he had launched Wikitribune which was meant to be an online publication with volunteer journalists, to combat fake news. However, it fizzled out and failed to attract a large audience.
Let’s see if this new radical idea works this time!