Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder says his new social network now has over 160,000 members. “Now, WT:Social has just passed 80,000 members. We’re about to send out a big email to everyone on the mailing list talking about a big push. I want to double that number by the end of the year,” he tweeted.
Unlike Facebook, twitter and Instagram, the platform says it will never sell users’ data, but will rather rely on the generosity of individuals donors. People who have signed up are on a waiting list and are encouraged to invite others, or opt for a subscription payment.
The subscription charge is £10 per month or £80 per year in the UK or $13/$100 in the US.
Wales says the platform is a “news-focused” place, where members will be able to edit misleading headlines. For him, he wants to fight the spread of fake news which has gained ground in popular apps like Facebook and Twitter. He says that members will see the articles shared by their network in a timeline format, appearing with the newest rather than the algorithmically format employed by other big techs.
“We will empower you to make your own choices about what content you are served, and to directly edit misleading headlines, or flag problem posts. We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line,” the introduction to WT:Social reads.
Wales in an interview with the Financial times described the advertising-led business model as problematic. With the freedom to share whatever content, “it turns out the huge winner is low-quality content,” he said.
His platform wants to rewrite the narrative by promoting quality content, making it a paid platform, and giving the members the will to edit a misleading headline.
Although the plan sounds like a brilliant initiative, social media consultant, Zoe Cairns said she had imagined that the new network would focus more on expanding its customer base quickly in order to prove itself to be a viable alternative. For many years, people have enjoyed using social networks for free and have got accustomed to this model.
“People are so used to social media being free. I think businesses might pay for it, but people are so used to having news at their fingertips for free.”
Wikitribunal was a crowd-sourced news platform launched in 2017 by Wales to track fake news. However, the site shut down after in October 2018 after he let go of the professional journalists who worked on the site.