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It seems like there’s a new social media platform every week. Every time, they try to come up with something new that will help them stand out among all other social networks, which, if we’re all being honest, doesn’t work out most of the time.
The newest one, called WT.Social or WikiTribune Social, is not only founded by one of the Wikipedia founders but is also aiming to be different from all other social media platforms.
Wales told Financial Times that the business model of pure advertising on social media platforms was problematic, and in another occasion, said that he got tired of Facebook and Twitter because of ‘clickbait nonsense’, and decided to create WikiTribune, where users, just like on Wikipedia, will be able to edit and flag wrong information and misleading links.
I think we can all agree that the clickbait culture is more alive than ever and that most content is pretty low quality. People don’t share meaningful articles anymore (and if they do, it’s rare), instead, they just post what they think will get them likes and rile people up. Wales got tired of the trolling and all the junk on social networks, hence WikiTribune’s concept.
On WikiTribune, there will be no ads. This social media platform will be focused on sharing real news articles with facts, the opposite of news with wrong information and made-up facts that can be found on all other social media platforms.
These news articles can be found on the subpages or subwikis of this social network, and they encompass dozens of topics, from video games and dank memes to climate change and artificial intelligence.
This social network, unlike all others, runs on donations. You can create an account, but in order to join any of the subpages, you must wait because there’s a waiting list.
However, if waiting isn’t your strong suit, you can get in by inviting people or by donating. You can pay $12,99 a month if you want to be a premium user. Wales said that people already pay for services such as Netflix and Spotify, so why wouldn’t they pay for WikiTribune, as well.
When speaking about the funding of his social media platform, Wales said: “If only some people pay 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.
You will only pay if you think that WT is making a meaningful positive contribution to your life. So my incentives are not to optimize to keep you upset, outraged, and clicking. My incentives are you to think: ok, this is meaningful. This helped me learn, to grow, to be a better person in some small ways. This helps the world be better,” Wales posted of Twitter.
As of December 16th, there are over 420.000 members.
Social media platforms seem to be all about ads nowadays. You cannot open a single page without seeing an ad that is aimed at you, leaving you to wonder about your personal data.
WikiTribune is different, containing zero ads and directly telling you that they are not going to sell your data. For people that are tired of seeing ads everywhere, this is a very attractive concept, but it does make one wonder: didn’t all social media platforms start off like this, completely ads-free?
Remember what happened to other social networks, how Facebook was founded by Harvard students and launched Facebook Ads 7 years later? Or how Instagram launched in 2010 and made ads a thing 5 years after?
It seems like every social network eventually succumbs to advertising, but I think that it is safe to say that WikiTribune will not have any. Think of Wikipedia, it is still completely ad-free.
Firstly, because it runs on donations. A social media platform has never ran on them before, and relying on people to donate isn’t the most reliable method in the world. Additionally, many people aren’t as patient as Wales would like them to be and they will just abandon the platform after they’re placed on a waiting list and told to either invite people or pay to get in.
Also, the primary function of social media networks, aside from the social, is entertainment. So far, WikiTribune looks.. Lackluster, for the lack of better word. The UX doesn’t look great and is pretty plain. It is true that their aim is to provide news and as such, they probably don’t care about the website appearance, but even news sites have some sort of theme and colors.
Another thing is that it is already really hard to get millions of active users, because of other more famous social networks. TikTok stands alone as an exception to this, gaining over 100 million users in only one year, despite Facebook and Instagram already being a thing. When it comes to WikiTribune, people are more dubious, because, in two months, it obtained only 400.000 users.
There are also hundreds of news sites, so many people will just think: ‘Why would I go through the trouble of making an account and inviting people if I can just get my news on other websites, where none of that is required?’
In a sea of social media networks, it is hard to come up with a unique concept and gain millions of users. Even if that is achieved, maintaining that userbase is extremely difficult, especially if there are competitors going for the same concept.
WikiTribune stands as a unique concept with only one aim: spreading knowledge. The website runs on donations and encourages users to share interesting and real news articles, that people can comment and have discussions on. Whatever happens, I think we can all agree that Wales’s goal is noble and that his faith in humanity is grand, so I can only hope that WikiTribune becomes a success and keeps going strong.
Thank you for reading!