Tuesday January 31, 2023 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC [Updated February 6, 2023 – likely due to system load, new registrants must now wait until February 9 to setup an account]
Social media tech editorial by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
On February 1 the new Spoutible social media platform will go live.
On this day before, the lead Spoutible creator Chris Bouzy held an online audio introduction, ironically using Twitter — the competitor that Spoutible hopes to compete against and improve upon.
Co-creator Michael Morgan was also on the call that was steadily attended by about 2,300 people for the first while. The Q&A session today went on for over two hours, seeing the participant count dropping to 1,300 users after two hours.
Spoutible.com currently has about 200,000 pre-launch registrants. Those folks can set up their accounts starting February 1. The rest of everybody else can join in starting February 6.
Intentionally similar to Twitter:
Many features will be the same as on Twitter. “It feels a lot like Twitter, and that was by design,” said Bouzy. “We didn’t want you to have a crazy learning curve,” he told today’s listeners.
Over time, the platform will shift away from certain design elements, and grow our own flavour, said Spoutible. Be able to shift from one platform to the other.
Spoutible will be focusing on the US market first, before promoting it largely elsewhere.
They fully intend to piggyback on Twitter as they launch. People will let their Twitter followers know that they’ve shifted over to Spoutible. That’s kind of like staying in your ex’s home once you’ve moved out your furniture.
Verification and fee:
Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with Twitter requiring payment for verification (the blue checkmark for regular folks, gold and silver checkmarks for larger entities).
“The verification process with Twitter made no sense,” said Bouzy today. He gave examples of people who couldn’t get verified even though they ‘exist’ and have a public profile. “We’re still putting the last pieces together for that. Some folks will be verified,” he said.
There will be a membership fee of about $3.99 or $4.99 per month (USD), it was revealed today.
It’s going to be harder to get Verification on Spoutible ompared to Twitter where that process was recently relaxed and fleshed out.
“We are going to have tiers of verification,” Bouzy said, saying that Twitter should “not be allowing regular folks to get verified”.
“Notable folks, it’s going to be reserved for them,” said Bouzy.
Pods, number of accounts, content:
Overall, Spoutible will aim to work against disinformation.
Features will include ‘pods’ (aka spaces) for tighter group conversations.
The number of accounts a person can have (under one phone number) will start at being limited to three. That will include personal and business accounts.
Extreme content (e.g. fascist, anti-semitic, pornography) will be flagged and blocked, said Bouzy. He will have a panel to ‘make tough decisions’.
Bouzy is promising ‘no advertising’ exposure to readers, but for that they have to pay the monthly fee.
Everyone will be able to edit their own posts.
While setting up a social media platform is no small feat (though Bouzy said it’s basically a message board — posting stuff which is stored in a data base and retrieved), the tone of the presentation did sound like a startup. There were several mentions of the cost of things, and limits on things at first (like the limit on number of accounts, and no posting of videos yet). There was ‘fear of competitors’ expressed in various ways,
Bouzy’s frustrations with Twitter include “I don’t see my favourites anymore, funny stuff and stuff that really matters”. “For me, Twitter has largely become unusable,” he said.
There will be a number of people you can follow in an hour, as one way to manage misuse of accounts. In that regard, he mentioned server resources.
Overall, it feels a bit naive or misrepresentative to say that ‘money doesn’t matter’ but to set boundaries on people who do benefit by social media and ‘block ads’ but charge for that. Advertisers rely on exposure in order to offer their services or products.
Monetizing the journalism industry:
Today it was clear that a monetization goal of Spoutible is to charge professional news outlets for posting their content. That stance is justified by ‘allowing’ access to articles that are presently blocked by major news outlets, which will allow people to read articles that are presently behind paywalls.
On Spoutible, advertisers will get 50% of funds raised by folks clicking through on ads which come up on articles.
But the news industry is already struggling to survive the financial onslaught of social media, so it’s questionable how successful this approach will be.
He says he is ‘pro-journalism’.
Safe space, staying the same:
He wants it to be about being a safe space, for people who are marginalized “and won’t have to deal with that stuff, at least online”. He doesn’t want Spoutible to go against the original goals. “No famous person has invested in Spoutible,” said Bouzy, responding to the premise of ‘conspiracy theories’ that famous people are funding the Spoutible launch.
“A lot of people are looking for a new home. I want this platform to remain different and stay that way,” said Bouzy.
He is totally against selling data. I think it should be illegal. I wouldn’t do it to my users. We’ll put that in writing,” said the Spoutible lead today. “We will never sell your data. For me it’s just a non-starter.”
He’s already talking about selling the platform at some point, but “it would be far down the line”. He pledges he would sell it to someone who shares the Spoutible values.
“I’m trying to send a message to other platforms. Someone had to do it,” he said, further explaining his mission. He aims to protect marginalized communities including LGBT, black, religious groups, etc.
“We’re going to see in a week if our tech holds up.” said Bouzy today. “It’s built with scale in mind.” He’s expecting registrations to roll in steady, not all at once.
“We’ve tried to make the platform as secure as possible,” the founder said. He insists that all personal data is encrypted. He expects there will be ‘bugs’ in what is essentially the beta version.
“How you experience the platform is all up to you,” said Bouzy as he wrapped up the 2.5-hour pre-launch session. “Let’s change social media together.”
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends emerged in mid-2020 from a preceding series of publications by founder/editor Mary P Brooke; published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc. The series: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).