Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales wants to give the world an alternative to Facebook and Twitter: a social media platform that's advertiser free and doesn't rely on algorithms to populate the top stories.
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has stealthily launched a new social media network called WT:Social–a revamped version of its news-focused site from 2017. The updated platform officially rolled out last month and has been slowly onboarding new users. In response to the spread of fake news and addictive interfaces built to generate clicks and revenue from sites like Facebook and Twitter, WikiTribune (WT) aims to change the landscape of social media by focusing on what’s right for users. By removing bad actors, editing misleading stories and giving people the choice to dictate what stories get served to them, WT wants to empower people to consume substantial content.
“We will never sell your data. Our platform survives on the generosity of individual donors to ensure privacy is protected and your social space is ad-free,” states the website.
WT:Social currently has about 50,000 users, a minuscule fraction of the more than 2 billion active monthly users on Facebook. Wales is hoping to grow the social network between the tens of millions to hundreds of millions of users. “It won’t be massively profitable but it will be sustainable,” Wales told the paper. "The company only has a handful of staff, including developers and a community manager."
Another way this new social media platform is trying to stand out is by posting the newest link first rather than the post with the most likes like on Facebook or Twitter. The site could add a button that will let users recommend stories in the future. “This is a radical, crazy experiment of mine,” Wales said. “I’m happy to say I don’t know all the answers.”
It just might resonate given the current climate for the leading social media companies. With Facebook in the crosshairs of regulators and privacy groups and Twitter banning political ads on their platform, there's a lot of turmoil in the industry. That's been leading for calls to boycott the social media companies, particularly Facebook.