Jimmy Wales launched a new social network called ‘WikiTribune Social’ shortened to WT: Social in hopes to fight against other platforms’ data-driven models, and protection of its users’ privacy. This new platform, dubbed as the “anti-Facebook,” has currently earned over 400,000 users.
Jimmy Wales is an American-British Internet entrepreneur and a co-founder of the online non-profit encyclopedia Wikipedia. Time has placed him among “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” for his role in creating Wikipedia which has become the world’s largest encyclopedia.
With a solid history of success his latest ambition WT: Social plans to revolutionize the landscape of social media networks. As the site gains an immense amount of users within a few days of its launch.
WT: Social was officially launched October of last year. When a new user signed up they would be placed on a waiting list with thousands of others. In order to skip the list and get access to the site, users either had to share a link with friends or make a donation. It gained a modest number of 25,000 users by the beginning of November which sky rocked to 200,000 just days after the launch. By December of that same year, the social network had over 400,000 users.
Finally i've gotten through and am now an officiall user of #WTSocial! Just very confused on how to use this….Surely Jimmy Wales has plenty of supporters who are willing to help build a user friendly platform?
— Nina Salomons (@nina_salomons) November 29, 2019
The biggest promise of the network is to be completely free of targeted ads, fake news, and “click bait nonsense” as Jimmy Wales describes.
In an interview with Business Insider, the Wikipedia founder said that “the aim isn’t to reach millions of users or to achieve massive expansion. Ultimately, the new platform is centered around news, but its aim is to tackle the “clickbait nonsense” and “fake news” that the site says is so prevalent on other platforms.”
— Niko Lewman (@pypwithniko) November 17, 2019
The platform has similar features as Wikipedia where you can edit content from other users and add details to the given information. It’s fully controlled by the community of users seeking more reliable news.
Wales adds on to say “A huge incentive for good behavior. If you say something obnoxious, someone will just delete it.” He continues, “Fake news has influenced global events, and algorithms care only about ‘engagement’, and keeping people addicted to platforms without substance. WikiTibune wants to be different. We will never sell your data.
Well at this point you are probably wondering how a huge network like this can survive without any means of monetization. The answer is simple “Donations”. WT:Social solely survives on donations provided by it’s loyal users, the same way Wikipedia managed to exist all these years free of ads. Wales says “Our platform survives on the generosity of individual donors to ensure privacy is protected and your social space is ad-free.”
The WTSocial page is so full of "GIVE US MONEY" messages that I haven't been able to find any content.
— tante (@tante) December 1, 2019
However people seem to have divisive opinions of the site’s concept, and actual function. Here are some of the internet’s reactions. This twitter user tweets “The WTSocial page is so full of “GIVE US MONEY” messages that I haven’t been able to find any content.” An optimistic user says ‘First bug found with WTSocial. Still, it feels like a pretty great product! I’m excited. Another tweet reads “Finally I’ve gotten through and am now an official user of WTSocial! Just very confused on how to use this…Surely Jimmy Wales has plenty of supporters who are willing to help build a user friendly platform?
First bug found with #WTSocial ????
Still, it feels like a pretty great product! I'm excited! pic.twitter.com/HlUZIFzyzA
— Cal (@compsci_cal) November 19, 2019
Despite the huge spike between the numbers of users within the first few months of WTSocial launch. Numbers seemed to slow down throughout 2020. Loyal users of the site push hard to convert friends, and family to join the non-profit site. Here are some of their attempts.
— Daniel Rourke ???? (@therourke) November 16, 2019
WTSocial users seem to use very brief tweets to persuade others such as ‘Come, lets be friends on Wikipedia social media alternative: #WTsocial.” And “ Looking to move away from social media that tracks you, join me #WTsocial.” Another Twitter user and WT: Social fan said, “Persuade your friends to move to WTSocial for sharing. With goods and services email newsletters are still king because in a world of stuff spammed to everyone, email is more personal.”
Social media platforms are such a prevalent part of everyday life. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, just to name a few. Breaking into such a crowded market is tough, as WT: Social is proving. There have been some supporters, but the future of the social network is very unclear. Will it gain more support as time goes on, or will people just enjoy the already popular platforms. Currently, the network is available only as a website, not an app.
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