I just got off the phone with the founder of Minds.com, Bill Ottman. Minds.com is a new social media hybrid site that promises to do what no other major platform has done: keep your information private. It also uses game theory and a token/monetary system to reward users for using the site. It’s also open source.
It’s still a little complicated.
In order to effectively use Minds.com, one has to have a cursory understanding of how blockchain like Bitcoin or Ethereum works. Blockchain is to tech what Cross-fit and Triathlon is to fitness or veganism is to food or libertarianism is to politics: How do you know if someone is a cross-fitter or triathlete or vegan or libertarian? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. I’m joking but these worlds have their own culture and the devotées are…devoted.
So, in my quest to educate myself about this social media and fully use it, I need to understand blockchain. That means talking to a cultist or watching YouTube or something. That’s a rather high barrier to entry for an average user and something that the people already there love and must overcome to build a following.
Minds.com is still useful if I don’t use the token feature. If I want a safe social media that won’t sell my data, my friends’ data, or otherwise sell me out, I can do that, too. That, alone, is a step up. But because Minds.com doesn’t share data, it cannot suggest friends for you to follow. Like at the beginning of Twitter, finding people to follow is a quest all your own. I loved doing that for both Twitter and Google+. Yes, I am one of the few people who liked features of Google+.
I’m still getting the vibe of the Minds.com platform but it strikes me as a combo of Twitter, Facebook, and of all things, Medium. That is, the founder says, by design. It encourages longer form conversation. If more people read you and interact with your content, if more people Subscribe to your Channel (each person is a Channel like on YouTube), you earn tokens. Tokens, in turn, can be used to boost a post. The interaction is organic (so far no bots?) and merit-based.
There are other alternative social media platforms out there. Vero looked like a hopeful. I even signed up myself but there was a controversy about never being able to unconnect from it. There are more specialized apps focusing on mom’s finding mom’s or neighborhood apps like Nextdoor (I’m also a member. It does for neighbors what Facebook does for friends: makes you hate them all.)
With all the hate focused on social media apps, one might wonder why the world needs more of them at all. That’s a valid question. Few remember what Twitter or Facebook were like when they started. With Twitter, there was a joy of discovering news and culture directly. I remember when Shaquille O’Neal followed me and talking to Darryl Hall of Hall & Oats fame. It was fun. Breaking news was direct and timely. There were no filters. I could help create a balanced feed of content that helped readers be informed and understand the world. Heady stuff. Facebook was its own revelation. Being connected to friends and family from years past was like a continuous family and high school reunion–with all the humor and horror that that suggests. Both platforms added value.
Something has changed in the social media world, though. First, the platforms make their money by using your life, your interests, your conversations as fodder to make money for them. Users are being used and often times, in ways they don’t understand. Second, the platforms are manipulating users. Their algorithms filter what content users see and who they see it from. Not so shockingly (as these companies are staffed with leftist recent-grad activists), left-leaning voices are amplified while conservative and libertarian voices are censored. Finally, each of these platforms are closed source. No one has any idea how they make their choices. It’s impossible to see, even, how they make their choices for advertising. Everything is hidden and must be trusted. For these reasons, there is an opening for social media platforms that address these issues.
Here are the benefits of an app like Minds.com:
The next battle online will be for people who want to retain their privacy while engaging in the financial and cultural world online. Privacy on the internet is always a myth. There’s not such thing as 100% security. But there are ways to have a much healthier barrier system and immunity from the ills online.
Minds.com is a start in that direction in social media platforms and since it just received some serious funding from Medici Ventures, it has a real chance to be a player in the space. Find me at Minds.com/MelissaTweets and follow The American Spectator there, too at Minds.com/TheAmericanSpectator.