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Cover image for A Social Media Platform Where You Aren't The Product

A Social Media Platform Where You Aren't The Product

christiangroeber profile image Christian Gröber ・1 min read

By now we all should have at least heard of the Netflix Movie "the social dilemma". In short, it's a documentary on how social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Reddit and YouTube are optimized to be addictive, so that they can make more money, by showing us even more ads.

“If something's free then you aren't the customer, but the product."

So, what if there was a social media platform that you would have to pay for in order to use it?

According to this article, people would be willing to pay up to 5$ a month to use facebook + instagram.

So the question is, do you believe it to be worth investing time and resources on building such a platform?

Here are my personal Pro's and Con's, I'll gladly add yours as well:

Pro's

+It's the goal of the Platform to connect you, not to get you addicted
+Content could not be regulated by advertisers.

Con's

-Hard to get paying userbase

Final words

One last remark, this platform would only solve half of the problem. People could still get addicted, younger users might still define their self-worth by the amount of likes. But it would be a much more private platform than anything that exists at the time. If you have any interest in helping bootstrap such a site, please do leave a comment.

Discussion (2)

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webbureaucrat profile image
webbureaucrat

The problem is that paying for things in and of themselves doesn't solve the problem. (This is why I hate the phrase "If something is free...)

Take operating systems for example. Does Windows cost money? Yes. Does Windows use your activity for ad targeting? Also emphatically yes. (And of course there are lots of free, open source OSes where you aren't the product.)

Or investment brokers: people love to say that Robinhood users are the product because Robinhood sells their orderflow. What people don't necessarily realize is that before Robinhood, almost all the big investment brokers charged a fee per trade and sold orderflow. Traders were the product for decades before. The only difference in Robinhood's model is they didn't charge them fees in addition to selling orderflow.

The same is true of social media: you could very well build a paid social media platform, but why would I pay for social media when my paying doesn't actually stop you from using my data in ways you aren't disclosing? I might be enticed by a simple and restrictive terms-of-service, but many companies have been caught lying in their ToS anyway.

If you want better privacy, you should instead pursue restrictive operating systems and browsers to deny bad actors the opportunity to misuse data because they will do so as long as they do have that opportunity.

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christiangroeber profile image
Christian Gröber Author

This platform wouldn't show you ads though. While Microsoft only makes money on the initial sale of Windows (and yearly through the Office Suite), this platform would have a subscription model, so there would be a constant revenue stream, and not any need for advertisements.

I suppose the most important thing would be transparency for any company that tried such a thing.