For many people, the thought of a new social media platform competing with the legacy networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is somewhat unimaginable. But for others, there’s now a new realm of social media on the horizon – and it looks very promising.
Enter the room, Minds.com. An open source social network that was launched in 2015 by information activist and entrepreneur Bill Ottman amidst growing concerns about Orwellian surveillance and censorship measures being adopted by the juggernaut social media firms.
So what makes Minds so different to its silicon valley counterparts?
Unlike the proprietary software of other tech giants, Minds is an open source platform. This essentially means anyone can inspect the code, investigate how their data is being used and even modify and use the code for their own purposes.
It’s no secret that the big social media firms have unfettered access to your private conversations. Minds respects the privacy of its users by hosting an encrypted chat service on their website – meaning that you’re free of clandestine spying.
Minds have adopted a feature that rewards users with ‘points’ just for using their site. Points can be exchanged for additional exposure on your content. Users are also able to ‘wire’ their points, currency, and Bitcoin (coming soon) to other users if they wish to do so.
The ‘wire’ function also allows users access to exclusive content from the channel they have wired points to, as well as the ability to set tiers. Users can decide whether they want to make a one-off, or recurring payment – similar to Patreon.
Minds offer a revenue sharing program that rewards users who refer other people to the platform with 25% of the revenue accrued from those who sign-up. A financial incentive that the big networks simply don’t measure up to.
Another attraction to Minds is that they are focusing on empowering individual content creators. When you post content on Minds, it reaches 100% of your subscribers in the news feed – primarily because there’s no algorithm manipulation on the backend – for now, at least.
Compare this to the likes of Facebook, where it’s estimated that pages only reach a mere 3% of their followers. This is because, years ago, Facebook adopted a ‘pay-to-play’ ethos with content creators on their site, which subsequently starved them of organic reach and engagement.
But the differences don’t end there. The creators behind Minds appear to share a philosophy that is diametrically opposed to that of the legacy networks. Facebook, Twitter and Google have all recently come under fire with regards to their questionable ethics and censorship policies.
Unlike these sites, it seems as though Minds are ideologically neutral. As long as it’s not illegal, they will not censor your content. So, you’d be forgiven for assuming that this is a platform that is committed to freedom of speech and liberalising the movement of information and ideas.
Despite the fact that it’s still in beta mode, Minds seems to have lived up to the ever-changing demands of today’s internet user – and it’s certainly being adopted rapidly by a growing counterculture that stands opposed to the oligopoly of mainstream social media.
Now topping one million users, it looks as though Minds is here to stay. It’s decentralised, open source architecture creates an ideal environment for innovation to thrive, whilst it’s ethos of minimal regulation allows for a truly free community of users to flourish.
Early adopters of this new network are likely to reap the benefits of first-mover advantage. Perhaps in the future, as the platform matures, Minds will develop their infrastructure, diversify their user base and disrupt the social media paradigm entirely – who knows.
But one thing is for certain: we now have a choice. Social media is entering a new age. It happened with Myspace when Facebook arrived back in 2004, and it will undoubtedly happen again. There are now real alternatives to the powers that be.
As we’ve learnt from the short history of the internet, today’s great innovations are often surpassed by greater innovations tomorrow.
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