Wiki Tribune Reboots as WT.Social to Compete with Facebook
Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame is offering a new social media platform via a reboot of WikiTribune, a crowdfunded news-sharing service that Wales launched in 2017, but has since struggled and laid off editorial staffers. Days after launching, WT.Social has more than 200,000 members, according to British website Independent.co.uk.
Wales told zdnet.com that he believes the platform could attract 50 million or more users.
“This is a radical, crazy experiment of mine,” Wales told the Financial Times. “I’m happy to say I don’t know all the answers.”
The ultimate goal for WT.Social, Wales suggested, is to serve as a replacement for Facebook and Twitter.
“We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottomline,” he told the Financial Times. “Obviously the ambition is not 50,000 or 500,000 but 50m and 500m.”
The platform is free to join, but new users are put on a waitlist, which can be instantly bypassed by donating money. WT.Social hopes to survive only on donations.
Disillusionment with Facebook since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and even more dismayed by its refusal to monitor political advertising for truth. Political misinformation, outright lies from Russian bots and removal of legitimate postings that AI identifies as violating community norms have all contributed to a growing revolt against the company.
In a recent story on bigthink.com by Stephen Johnson, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said he was inspired to create WT.Social because advertising had allowed “low-quality” content to dominate Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter have recently adopted opposing strategies in how to handle political advertising.
“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.
Wales said advertising is the key problem of platforms like Facebook and Twitter. As a fan of TheDoDo.com animal videos, this writer can relate. One day Facebook started advertising in the middle of the video. At first it seemed like it was just for a few seconds, then 15 seconds, and now 30 seconds on some posted videos. It is intrusive and unappreciated.
‘I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problem driving low quality media is that it has been purely advertising supported, and that the social networks which provide so much distribution are also purely advertising supported,” Wales wrote in a blog post. “Facebook, Twitter and other social networks make revenue based on how long you stay on their site looking at and clicking on advertising. Engagement is prioritized over quality.”
I use Wikipedia often and have been grateful to Mr. Wales for years for helping to co-found it. But as the bigthink.com article mentions, Wikipedia is not immune from trolls either.
Only 11 months ago, Facebook donated $1 million to Wikipedia. Stay tuned for further fallout over the new platform.
read more at bigthink.com
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