Why Wikipedia Creator’s New ‘Facebook Killer’ Is Doomed to Fail

  • WT.Social is a new social network that doesn’t have ads and relies on subscriptions.
  • Created by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, it wants to be a “news focused” social network.
  • However, its desire to avoid misinformation and clickbait means that it will shun some of the main drivers of social network growth.

We’re all aware of the ills of social media. It’s addictive, it’s terrible for our mental health, and it’s enabling the spread of misinformation on a massive scale. Yet despite our knowledge of such evils, Facebook boasts around 1.6 billion daily active users.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wants to change this. Having launched the ad-free WT.Social network this month, he’s already celebrating having reached 200,000 users. Given that the social network is barely a week old, this is a very encouraging sign.

However, WT.Social is doomed to fall far short of supplanting its ad-driven rivals, and this is precisely because we prefer our social media to be bad for us.

How WT.Social Aims to Stamp Out Fake News & Clickbait

Source: Twitter

WT.Social’s platform isn’t all that radical. Users share links to online articles, but they can also edit misleading headlines and flag suspicious posts. Wales hopes that this, combined with upvoting, will prevent the site from being overrun by fake news and clickbait.

More unusual is that WT.Social’s business model revolves around paid subscriptions: $13 per month or $100 per year. Because it’s not funded by ads, clickbait should be much less common on the platform.

Or so Wales claims:

The business model of social media companies, of pure advertising, is problematic. It turns out the huge winner is low-quality content.

We Love the Seedy Side of Social Media

This is all well and good, but there’s a reason why networks such as Facebook and Twitter are so popular.

Not only have they been designed to be as addictive as possible, but users secretly enjoy the ability to spread misinformation and then retreat into…

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