You need network effects for social network rivals to take off. That isn’t to say there won’t be a Facebook successor (there almost certainly will be one — the big challenge for Facebook is if it has a piece of that or not), but just as Diaspora, Google+, Peach, Ello, App.net, Gab, Mastadon, and any other number of attempts at this have failed (calling Mastadon a failure is unfair, but its not Twitter and won’t ever be), so will this.
Snap was a threat to Facebook’s core messaging properties (WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram), so Instagram had to blatantly copy Snap to win back momentum. Snap is still a thing, but unless it leans into the fact that it isn’t owned by Facebook (which is ultimately what hurts WA and Instagram), it isn’t ever going to catch-up, especially on a global level. TikTok has the sort of network effect Vine never had, and could be a real contender for the next generation, even with its ownership questions. Twitch and YouTube still have opportunities for growth — and there is still lots of room for innovation in the live video space.
And look, maybe this will be a really nice niche community for a small group of people. I hope it is. I hope the people that signup and pay for it enjoy it. I hope Wales doesn’t get bored when it doesn’t have tons of users and make tons of money.
There is a market for small community social networks. Not everything has to be the scale of Facebook — I’d argue it’s better when things aren’t that size — but let’s not pretend we’re not talking about this because it’s being positioned as something that is “taking on” the giant — when it would be more helpful - but make for a poorer headline/narrative - to say, “rich dude wants to recreate The Well for a generation of users who doesn’t know what The Well was.”
Who says that success should be measured by Twitter? It may be that no other social network approaches Twitter and Facebook in size given their dominance, but that doesn't mean that there can be no other social networks.
In my opinion, one-size-fits-all social was a mistake to begin with. Smaller niche spaces (like HN) are much more interesting.
To think of it another way: did your favorite local bistro "fail" as a restaurant because it didn't become as large as McDonald's? Which one would you rather eat at?
Big social media companies are now seen as responsible for the destruction and compromise of democracy and have many more problems which wouldn't exist if they weren't so universally adopted.
I hope the future is full of many smaller niche social media sites that cater to a smaller group instead of trying to appeal to everyone.
I personally don't have any major social media accounts, just small ones like HN - but I understand why people feel the need to use larger ones.
What matters is the people I want to interact with, and in Seattle they are on Mastodon. Not everyone needs to be on it, and frankly if close to everyone were on it you'd potentially drive away a good subset of users. That being said, by design I can retain my feed of friends on Mastodon without fear of some corporation or eternal spring of new users wrecking it.
I too was 'logged off except' a wealth of university-related groups. Then I was 'logged off during' writing up my dissertation, and finally just 'logged off'.
(And now I'm still contributing to user count, while continually thinking I should just log in to delete my account, as I've heard a couple of times from people that thought I was 'on Facebook' or 'what happened to your profile' and maybe more people that think I'm just ignoring them than I'm aware of.)
I'm not a big Facebook user, but my parents have been caught up in the bush fires currently raging in Australia and got cut off from power and internet (no power for satellite internet, and the mobile mast ran out of backup power), and finding a local Facebook group created to discuss the fires was fantastically helpful, I got in touch with their rural route mailman and people in the local village and found a bunch of good local news sources.
In comparison there was nearly nothing on Twitter (one Sydney reporter who was tweeting from her dispatch for two or three days). Main-stream news sites were utterly useless with no detail in their reports. Without Facebook I would have had drastically less information and more worry.
There was a clear, forum-inherited structure to most groups. It kept me coming back, day after day.
Google+ had a similar appeal - I dont know you, I dont care. I like what you have to offer, so I'm getting to know you.
Bridging that into meatspace relationships by frontloading them first? Was straining - I realized how little my peers cared for what they even do. Flooding that feed with game-spam? Negated the premise. And turning it into infinite-scroll of bad takes to drive engagement just turned me temporarily, but deeply misanthropic.
Turning online into afk relationships and friendships made all of this worthwhile. Facebook had that for a bit with their "events" features... But those got nerfed into being useless without an advertising firm's budget.
I, for one? Am happy to join somewhere that respects my time.
That's literally why I added the caveat of saying "Mastodon isn't a failure" -- but it hasn't overcome the incumbent and it won't and that may not have been the goal, but that is certainly the story that was told/sold "this OSS de-centralized app is going to replace Twitter," if not by the founders, than by the press/people excited by the idea.
The differentiator behind Mastodon is federation via the ActivityPub protocol. And Mastodon is just one implementation of ActivityPub. More are being built every day.
It's likely that a world with ubiquitous ActivityPub would look very different from the social media landscape of today -- Mastodon is a little like Twitter, Pixelfed is a little like Instagram, Peertube is a little like Youtube, but they all syndicate their content to each other. So as ActivityPub grows the conventional categories blur. What happens if WordPress decides to add ActivityPub support to the Core?
I can't read the future but I think the real metric to look at is ActivityPub adoption. No one is tracking it very well right now to my knowledge. And if it hits a certain critical mass I think it will start to reconfigure the current categories of social media. It will also bring down barriers to entry which may discourage the rise of incumbents similar to today's crop.
My main gripe with it is that potentially writing a spec-compliant server in an enterprise-y language like Java almost feels like a fool's errand (I tried it in Dart, which is very Java-esque).
On that note, I don't even think that the main focus should be on which protocol is used, but rather the features of platforms in the "fediverse," and reasons other than the blanket term "privacy" that the average person would consider switching.
Like I said, I'm a fan of ActivityPub and its concept, but I think it's fair to say that spec is more complex than what it needs to be, and would have been better off strictly defining the shape of data it can handle.
Are we talking about that? I don't think so... why must everyone "overcome" the incumbent?
Sure, Facebook is the goto for "general purpose" social networking between friends and family. On the other hand, Facebook is terrible for following and discussing the news, unless you like a huge heap of bias and low-quality clickbait. WT Social is planning to address that niche. Facebook is also terrible if you want to keep up with a huge volume of tech news and follow interesting discussions on those topics with lots of expert contributors. HN fills that niche, but sometimes there is too much politics here, so Lobste.rs exists for people who prefer smaller, more focused conversation.
The "long tail" in the social space is huge. Not every venture needs or wants to be the next Amazon in its space.
> if not by the founders, than by the press/people excited by the idea.
And that's the problem. The press doesn't know what they are talking about.
It’s scale allows niches to spontaneously coalesce and grow stronger over time.
In this case, if all your friends hang out at McDonalds, you're not gonna want to sit at your local bistro alone.
It seems unlikely that this particular new network will succeed, but if it provides value to a tight-knit set of users, it can plant roots and grow.
At least, that is what I would be looking at doing. Certainly the monthly fee is high, so what level they break even in running costs will be lower and may well be that they already break even in running and depreciation of assets -costs. May even be a small monthly profit already. We just don't know.
It reminds me of a network that was created for the extreme rich, a few years ago. On searching for it, I find that there have been several such created: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2014/09/social-networks-for-...
That was written in 2014, so perhaps there are more since then.
I always thought human experiments online would be huge with combining live video space, experiment ideas, text chat and a reward system.
Likewise Facebook isn't Myspace and never will be. Does this mean Facebook is a failure?
Facebook aims to cover anyone's every need which could come up in a social interaction or how communication could occur. In other words, FB is a communication, an entertainment and a business platform.
WT:Social, on the other hand, seems to be an evolution of the WikiTribune diving into the social market world, yet continuing its focus on reporting and fact-based information sharing. This involves work which isn't all too appealing to the general public.
"Wikipedia have launched a social media site, based around sharing news"
It was really strange and I always assumed at the time that Facebook and Google had come to some agreement behind the scenes.
I get ditching things that don't work, but G+ is a great example of something that had plenty of traction in it's early days and, as far as I can see, lost it purely because G didn't seem to care about it.
Then they ditched them all of a sudden, and now we have premium-priced Pixels that fall well short of the competition.
I didn't use it often but I checked on it periodically just to keep up on what was, hopefully, going to be a contender in the social media world. What I saw was almost no change in user facing functionality over the course of it's existence.
There also didn't seem to be any significant attempt at marketing, monetization or collaboration with the community.
Meanwhile there were significant influencers and content producers with large numbers of followers. The dream of any social media company.
I always assumed it folded because they couldn't agree on a path to monetization.
But from the perspective that they actually did care about it (which I read as they devoted significant resources to it even if that didn't translate to anything that was publicly visible)... It starts to sound more like a company that's hit the self hobbling critical mass of size and internal bureaucracy.
What did it look like from the inside?
I worked in research at the time and have never been a heavy social media user, so it didn't really affect me much, but the internal story seems to fit reality more than what you're describing: the change in user facing functionality was progressive integration of Google products (like YouTube)
I don't know why they thought that this kind of bullshit would work on "techies" (the core audience of Google Reader) - that just made them wake up and realize that Google's "Don't be Evil" motto was a sham...
As for Facebook the site, this is less and less true. I have kids cross different age ranges, and Facebook is not a thing at all for any of them or their social groups. And whenever someone wants to organize things via Facebook, there is always a lot of pushback from people who don't/won't use it.
Their other properties, Whatsapp and Instagram, are very popular, but they serve slightly different functions. So either there is a vacuum left from Facebook (the site), or the market has simply shifted and no longer wants a MySpace/Facebook type platform.
I'm sure they have Whatsapp, Instagram, and other apps, but I've never met someone who couldn't at least provide a Facebook profile when asked and then communicate with me on it.
It seems hard to draw on your kids' experiences until they at least enter university or the work force and are actually meeting new people. I never had a Snapchat until a cute woman asked me if I had one. Now I have one ready to go.
Facebook wasn't even available until I entered university, but that's also when the rolodex becomes useful. Not so much in highschool where, even in my massive school, I still wasn't meeting so many people nor had much control over my social life compared to uni.
So I'm wary of people extrapolating from what kids do. People have been saying the death of FB is just around the corner, "just look at what kids use" for years.
Of course, a lot of this also depends where you live, like how Americans will use iMessage while that's basically unheard of in other parts of the world.
If there is no gain or incentive for the famous users or the so called 'influencers', then the 'millions of users' will stay where the famous users are.
I've listened to a podcast recently about how the younger generation (00's onwards) don't even use social networks the way they're designed anymore. They keep multiple accounts/personas, they post ephemeral content, delete content, etc. It's a lot more about self-expression (Snapchat, TikTok) than having an online presence of your real-life self (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). In a sense, they're undermining the monopolising network effects by creating many disconnected sub-graphs. It's been eye opening.
I never thought using your real name on the internet was going to catch on. I was terribly mistaken.
"The device’s address book is now the social network, so using phone numbers as an identifier has reduced switching costs by putting a user’s social network under their control. In a way, the notification center on a mobile device has become the federation point for all communication apps, similar to how older desktop IM clients unified communication across multiple IM networks."
They had a teenager as guest and the talk dynamic was good, with a lot of Q&A. Since I don't usually interact w/ teenagers I was completely blind to how they were using the web today.
I use Facebook to post pictures of my vacations for my family, and get updates on my nieces and nephews since I moved from Houston, TX to NYC 5 years ago.
Until someone replaces that aspect in a way that works while still enabling my family to do their memes and quizzes, and all that crap I avoid, there will be no "rival". I HATE Facebook, but I can't get rid of it without losing access to my family.
Again, not that much of a problem to me, but certainly something I wouldn't deny is happening.
One side of my family has about 30 people that are all willing to travel to meet somewhere every few years. Compared to that expense, it would be trivial for us to share the cost of such a service, even if it were a few hundreds dollars a year.
The thing about this is, every family has that one person who will pay for this and they keep it updated. Most family members will just lurk, but some will be totally into it.
I bet they would even take things off Facebook and repost in this app so that people off Facebook can see too.
You would have to only allow those in your family/inner circle the ability to order your photos but for families who use Facebook just to keep in touch/share baby photos having a social media centered around family groups could be lucrative.
It'd be awesome to see someone contribute back some automatic flow which gets you up and running in 5 minutes, instead of having to figure out how to run these in AWS yourself, for example. Could be a fun project though.
There was some talk years ago about switching to Facebook but I and a few others refused to participate on that platform and we wound up staying on Spokt.
The service is ok, nothing special, but it does serve the purpose of ongoing communication away from the spying and trash and noise and dark patterns of Facebook without having to set something custom up.
That makes sense, I don't think a social network and privacy advocating (WikiPedia donating, HN type) go hand in hand. I like the premise of WT.Social.
Facebook is where it is because it cracked 'real identity' when others were encouraging dog/cat names for profiles.
My dog had a facebook profile, so the Zuck doesn't allow it anymore? Keep in mind that was a very social dog.
I use Facebook as a perpetually correct address book. People change address, phone number and sometimes email, but never their Facebook account. That single property of Facebook (which is something my generation attributed to Facebook, instead of it being directly coded as a feature) is why I could basically never leave.
I've tried to get my family off of Whatsapp, and utterly failed there. I strongly doubt my entire social circle would ever spontaneously move to something better than Facebook.
And the best part is nobody even knows if the people reading are turned off or think you are bragging that never gets echoed back in any way.
If Google+ failed with google immediately signing anyone with a gmail account up for it and pushing it fairly hard with all their channels - how extremely unlikely is it for someone to organically take Facebook’s market share away?
Oh no problem, you’ll only need someone with more resources than Google!
If HN fails to ever hit 1M users, PG (or Sam Altman) isn’t going to shut it down or cut off its funding, and neither he nor Y Combinator are expecting or relying on it to generate revenue. It continues to exist after over a decade because the Y Combinator folks find the content and discussion interesting.
And hey, that’s all well and good. I’m glad that HN sticks around when a more profit-driven site would’ve failed years ago. But it’s important to note that what works for HN likely wouldn’t work for anyone else.
> But it’s important to note that what works for HN likely wouldn’t work for anyone else.
It's also important to note that what does work for HN, might work for others too. We won't know unless we try. Strict moderation is something that helped HN, helped make Flashback (Swedish Forum) tolerable and something many of the greatest subreddits applied with great success. Just an example.
The value isn't in selling ads.
I see this whole line of reasoning that thousands of people isn't enough to be newsworthy a symptom of valleythink where all that is valued is growth.
There are other factors that indicate success and the community for the most part has lost sight of those for the tunnel vision of "must get funding!"
Sounds like this isn't envisioned as a profit-making business, either. I'd happily donate some money to have a place my friends and family can easily hang out online that isn't trying to sell us to anything.
I would say in general, places where you interact with other people ends up building some sort of social network of it's insides.
spamming was the only problem i saw. and i just couldn't comprehend that the same company that defeated spams in email couldn't do the same on their social network.
someone made a comment earlier about twitter killed vine and now tiktok is being a better vine. maybe someday we will see a social network where the emphasis is on communities and not the self. that's what google+ did better than anything that was out there.
That seems to be filled by irc channels (less now), subreddits and more recently discords.
Technically anyone can use the dating service Christian Mingle. But you might not find a lot of atheists or Jewish people on there, simply because of the name and the implication of the people who would use a service with that name.
Fortunately, the protocol name is almost a filtering function that removes anyone so immature as to be put off by the name. The rest embrace the name, who doesn't like a good butt?
To confirm: a copy of my messages and images is permanently stored in my friend´s and my friend´s of friend´s diaries (up until the point where they delete them, I presume)
On the other hand, being the social network for a smaller audience is very do-able. Even Facebook started locally at Zuckerbergs college, then expanded to other colleges, before eventually opening up. Being the social network for a single school only requires a few thousand people.. then you're the social network everyone (in that school) wants to be on to discuss events relevant to the school... and you've created your foothold.
Google was never interested in a creating a foothold in a small niche. They said "We're google.. basic marketing rules don't apply" and they learned they were wrong.
In this case at least the users had agency and actually signed up.
Still a small number in the grand scheme, but G+ was a bit of a different beast due to how Google launched it.
It's kind of like running for president of the United States and bragging that you got "hundreds" of votes.
If you're going to blow up to the size of facebook you're just going to suffer from the very same problems. More diversity and more competition and more alternatives is what this is supposed to be part of. I think the point here is to build an ecosystem of saner social networks, not the next Franken-network.
> Social media consultant Zoe Cairns said she thought the network would have to grow its numbers quickly in order to prove itself to be a viable alternative to the giants.
> "It's going to need a lot of money ploughed into it," she said.
> "People are so used to social media being free. I think businesses might pay for it, but people are so used to having news at their fingertips for free."
I'm not sure it matters for this social network. It's positioning as a news-based platform doesn't require people you know personally to use the site in order for it to have value.
Perhaps conversely, too many people on a social network may be detrimental to these aims, as ever more narrow-minded echo chambers or factions can achieve critical mass.
What a compelling experience...
I think something people maybe aren't taking into account is that this doesn't need to be a "Facebook killer". People with Facebook also use any number of social media sites. It could just as easily be something like a Reddit substitute since it seems to be somewhat "groups" oriented.
Also, from what I can see, it isn't pay-to-play like some people have suggested. Rather, it seems to be exactly what I've seen multiple people advocate for: Pay for preferential service.
I'll keep an eye on it at least. Why not.
1. Free commercial services supported by advertising.
2. Ad-free commercial services supported by subscriptions.
3. Open-source distributed services.
Arguably there’s a fourth category: free, ad-free commercial services supported by VC money to grow until reaches critical mass and pivots into a paid/advertising model.
The second option caters to a smaller crowd who are willing to pay for a better experience, but a “smaller crowd” defies conventional wisdom about social network effects. It’s an interesting experiment though. There are now dozens of news aggregators, streaming media services, gaming platforms, etc., competing for our monthly disposable income, so it may be a tough sell.
The NYT covered the shift towards subscription services recently:
Facebook is for baby pictures of friends, angry old relatives and instant messenger for people that you want to keep at a certain distance :-)
To pay that for just another service for procrastination? Maybe I'll pass. Although I definitely support the idea.
Deciding to pass on a service that asks you money to offer you a service is completely fine, as long as you don't later complain about "privacy issues" and "massive surveillance".
It's not necessary for everyone to pay if the topology is right. They could have joined the growing ActivityPub fediverse and set up a managed hosting thing the way one of the major Mastodon contributors did.
The centralized sites spend much of their money on marketing and making ad deals. You don't need that if the social network is a standard feature you bolt your software on to and don't depend on ads.
But yeah, everyone will still be subject to the government showing up and going through your data if they deem it necessary. I'm not sure that can be helped? If there's an ironclad way to do that, I haven't seen it done.
Another option would be to have voluntary donations, like wikipedia.
I'm not going to pay $10/month for a curated new feed which I can do myself for free, and probably do a better job of it.
paying in kind is still a valid form of payment
I enjoy some Instagram and Snap, that’s it. I’m bored with them too though.
I guess what I was trying to say is that they're different formats and they encourage different types of engagement.
What I meant is, I don't miss the type of experience that Facebook provided at all.
Instagram feels more like entertainment and the engagement seems more "trivial" to me. I can passively consume or participate in if I have nothing better to do, else I don't miss it.
Facebook started to turn into a boring chore for me.
Usage of IG leaves that dynamic essentially intact.
However, Wales' mission is noble and I hope he does well!
WikiSocial might've done, I guess that's taken. But this is too long, unless it's supposed to be pronounced "woot-social"?
Social media sites are data-vampires, not entities deserving any kind of respect.
Yay, so yearly half-site banners at the top of the page asking for an individual contribution while sitting on a multi-million dollar stack of money? Nice. Facebook is done! \s
Upcoming "Battle of Edits"?
And why edit only "headlines", and "misleading" compared to what?
I'd prefer "The platform says it will never sell user data and relies on paying customers rather than ads"
Nov 17th: 160,000 users
Nov 18th: 200,000 users
What would be nice is if people paid for Journalism again. They major newspapers and news magazines should figure out how to have a common payment system that lets you subscribe in one place to nearly everything, with a consistent interface between them.
The site looks very 2000s PHP CMS. I'm not sure what it is. I searched for a topic I'm interested in, something came up, and I clicked...and it bumped me back to the main page where it shows my place in the list.
Why would I invite people or pay money for something if I have no idea what I'm getting?
I used GNU Social for a long while but when the host of my instance shut it down I didn’t create an account on another server instance. I liked the decentralized nature of GNU Social, but I think WT.social has more chance of getting traction.
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKie-vgUGdI
I have created some groups for software developers
It probably won't grow to hundreds of millions of users but that's fine. Closer connections with people that care are much more interesting.
I hope in future they implement messaging system and events.
I think it's for the people who consider that a feature.
I just still don't quite grasp the concept. Ad-free (cool for privacy) and everybody can edit everything?