Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia Launches Facebook Rival

WT:Social has over 78,000 members

Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia has launched a new social network.
Chrys/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / November 16, 2019 12:48 pm

It’s no secret that plenty of Facebook’s users have become fed up with Facebook in the last few years. From its lack of fact-checking to its impact on publishers to the way it can foment extremism, there are plenty of reasons why users might consider deleting their profiles or otherwise jumping ship. But for people who’d still like to be on a social network, there have been few alternatives. 

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is trying to change that. Wales is behind a new social network, WT:Social. “We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line,” states a message on their introductory page

At ZDNet, Liam Tung has more details — including the chief way that it differs from its predecessors in the social networking space. In other words, WT:Social is a paid service. As Tung phrases it, “[i]t costs $12.99 a month or $100 a year in the US, or €12 a month or €90 a year in Europe. It’s £10 and £80 in the UK. In other words, about the same as a Netflix or Spotify subscription.”

As its name suggests, WT:Social represents an evolution of an earlier venture from Wales called WikiTribune. A little over a year ago, WikiTribune laid off its staff of journalists and announced a change in focus. 

“[R]ather than hire moderators to monitor fake news as Facebook has, Wales’ social network would rely on a community of users to enforce standards,” Tung writes. Given the occasionally horrific things that Facebook’s moderators have seen, this might be putting a lot on the shoulders of this new social network’s users. 

As of the publication of ZDNet’s article, there were 78,000 users of the new network. “Signing up is free, but WT:Social has established a wait-list that paying donors can bypass,” Tung writes. “So far, just 200 people have paid to skip the waiting list.”

It’s a modest start for a new social network; only time will tell whether it will be the next Facebook or something much less ubiquitous.

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