In a move no one saw coming, earlier this month Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced a social media platform called WT:Social.
That network is now picking up quite a lot of Steam and experiences a user growth many startups would envy.
Taking on the giant networks owned by Facebook or Google, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced an ad-free, user-funded social media platform designed to “fight back against fake news and low quality content”.
Because both issues that are commonly fueled by the chase for advertising dollars and / or users’ own data, Jimmy Wales bets on a subscription model funded by the most passionate advocates for quality content and data privacy.
“Existing social networks work on a pure advertising business model, ” explained Wales. “This drives them to addict you, to keep you on the site. Their incentives are in the direction of outrage, radical discourse, trolling − not your human flourishing.
But I have a different idea: if only *some* people pay (maybe you! maybe not! pay if you want) then it can be free for everyone else. I think the people who will pay will be the ones who care the most about fixing the broken Internet culture that leads horribleness, ” explained Wales earlier this month on Twitter.
https://t.co/Uk7PUE8GV2 just passed 200,000 members while I was having dinner with @carolecadwalla, @iRowan , @chrisinsilico , @RanaForoohar , @jamiesusskind and others on the general topic of what’s gone wrong with social media and the world in general.— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) November 18, 2019
WT:Social has no algorithm that shows content in the feed based on the user.
Instead, the user subscribes to sections called “subwikis” and the content from those topics will be served chronologically. It’s a similar mechanism used by Reddit and its subreddit boards, though that content can be sorted either by new or by popularity from other user’s up votes.
Right now, WT:Social is currently working on its infrastructure, so free users have to join a waitlist before getting access.
However, as Wales explained, the site is designed to be supported through the subscriptions of some generous users, so they can get access now.
A WT:Social subscription cost £10 a month or £80 per year in the UK.
*Correction: A previous version of this article stated that WT:Social is an initiative founded by Jimmy Wales and is backed by Wikipedia. We have updated the article to clarify that WT:Social has no affiliation with either Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation.