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Cover image for Signal Five, a social platform

Signal Five, a social platform

drew
Programmer, humorist. Ruby on Rails padawan. Building signalfive, a privacy conscious ad-free social platform.
・3 min read

I've been thinking. For at least the past few months, but probably longer. I think about it every time I travel around the web and see an ad for something I looked up on another platform. I think about it when I buy something online and see ads for it everywhere, or I'm watching a YouTube video and the ad is for the same thing I'm doing online.

I think about all the invasions of privacy by companies we are supposed to be able to trust, and I watch them bash each other over the same things they each are doing. Kind of ironic.

I realize that companies have to make money. I'm not one of those "tech should be free" guys, or everything should be open source. But I've definitely become one of those who hates that fact that the vast majority of "free" platforms online track my every move, and monetize me along the way. I don't see any of the revenue they make from showing me ads. I don't get any value from them. You could argue, probably rightfully, that I've gotten a lot of value from Facebook and you tube and Google over the years. You could also argue that hey, I signed up for it. Of course, trying to read and understand the legalese contained in the EULA or user agreements can be pretty difficult. Most of us just click OK, assuming, not really reading, we just want to sign up.

At the time of signup we aren't concerned with what companies are doing with our stuff. And that's bad. We should care a lot more about this than we do, although I think that the more privacy is in the news, and the more these companies continue to screw up and wind up getting sued, the more people are going to think about these things and wonder if there's another alternative.

I know there's already some alternative tech out there, but more is better, right?

All of this just to say, I started a project with a friend of mine. It's probably going to be a large one, a ton of work. It may not be successful. Hell, It may not get any users at all. I don't really know. But over the last few months I've been planning. Literally. Brainstorming, writing it all down, trying to encapsulate what it is I want out of a social media platform. And also, what I don't want.

There's three things I know for sure that I want from my social platform:

  1. A way to keep up with friends and family. The only reason I use FaceBook at all is keeping up with my family and all their kids, and a few friends that aren't using twitter.

  2. An ad free experience. This is actually more my second number one, because I'm tired of ads and I don't want to see them anymore. I think I'm getting ad burn-out.

  3. Privacy minded. I want my social platform to consider what kind of data it collects and to limit it. And also not sell it, share it, or otherwise give it to another company. Period.

You probably have questions about monetizing a platform like this. I have a few ideas, and I'll go over them in another post.

Meanwhile I need coffee.

Discussion (9)

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teotcd profile image
JedDevs • Edited

I'd definitly like to see how you'd plan to montize this and would love to see a non-ad driven social media. With that said - I think that's an uphill battle - maybe instead we should go to a government level and encourage policy that gives our data real worth, and allows us to see the return of said worth.

Andrew yang for one, is trying to do just that: wired.com/story/opinion-andrew-yan...

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andevr profile image
drew Author

I hadn't seen what Andrew Yang is doing, but I'm not sure something like that will ever go through. It's like the Right to Repair bills: they make sense, but there's too many ways around it. I'm not confident enough in lawmakers to really have any hope they might do something. Meanwhile, I think changing some things like personal usage, using VPNs, alternative search engines and social platforms is the way to go.

andevr profile image
drew Author

I agree completely, I think facebook especially is trying to be the everything for everyone. They've crammed so much into that platform that there's no competing in terms of amount of features. That would be stupid. I think its better to be smaller in terms of overall features but provide a good/better experience for those features. Not asking for personal info is a big deal for me. Ive got a lot of ideas for that but I'm still fleshing them out. I'm thinking of something sort of along the lines of communities, but more family/friends focused. Not Twitter style since alternatives to that already exist.

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andevr profile image
drew Author

Can you tell me about your social platform? I'm curious now :)

"The """battle""" is to recogize that You can just not use those platforms and stop expecting laws to handhold you in every bad decision." This is probably the number one thing in terms of tech companies using data, just stop using them. Or find alternatives to them.

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nickmaris profile image
nickmaris

What about mastodon? I haven't used it yet but the following communities might be interesting for you:

indieweb.social/about/more

noc.social/about

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andevr profile image
drew Author

I signed up for indieweb/mastodon to see what its like.. It seems to be a Twitter style platform but decentralized. Its not quite what I'm looking for, although I could see using it in place of Twitter. Ive used parler too but its... lacking. Most of my people are on Facebook and don't use Twitter, so I'm looking to build something maybe more family/friends oriented. I have some (hopefully) unique ideas for it but I need to get the MVP finished before I start branching into features. We are using Basecamp as our project hub which works very well for putting everything in one place.

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andevr profile image
drew Author

Thank you for the links, I hadn't actually heard of mastodon. Time for some research :)