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WT.Social, the new social network

15/01/2020

“Fake News” was given the accolade of Word of the Year for 2017 by Collins Dictionary. It has been mentioned frequently in the news over the last few years, and you’ve more than likely come across it yourself while scrolling through your own social media accounts. This is why WT:Social has been launched by the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.

WT:Social will feature a feed similar to Facebook's news feed, however, the content shown will be in chronological order, instead of what is sponsored or getting high engagement. Jimmy Wales wants this to be more news focused, saying that users will be able to edit news titles which may be misleading or flag up questionable posts. This is to fight back against the fake news which is often spread around other popular social networks.

The new platform was launched in October 2019 and already has over 400,000 users signed up (as of December 2019), but hopes to reach 50 million users eventually. There is currently a waiting list to join, however you can currently skip the queue by paying for a subscription for £10 a month or £180 a year, but will be free to use – paying is still optional like on Wikipedia. Donations and subscriptions are going to be used to cover the costs of the website. Wales said in a blog post, “I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problem driving low quality media is that it has been purely advertising supported, and that the social networks which provide so much distribution are also purely advertising supported. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks make revenue based on how long you stay on their site looking at and clicking on advertising. Engagement is prioritized over quality.”

He wants to keep WT:Social free of ads to create meaningful content, and hopes that if you find the social network useful you might donate something occasionally to help keep it running. Wales said “We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line." Once you’ve created an account, you’re invited to join “subwikis”, which are similar to Facebook groups or subreddits on Reddit, so you can filter news to your interests. As well as content being displayed in chronological order, they are reportedly looking to add an up-voting system so the community can boost high quality or important news.

This form of social media is quite experimental, as it relies on the users to moderate content, so they hope this will be an incentive for users to use the site sensibly, otherwise someone else will come along and edit anything that isn’t correct, unlike other social networks which rely on their own employees to monitor and evaluate content following their own set of rules.

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