Challenges for Alternative Social Networks

The original idea is by @amirsiraj at - the Alternative Network Effect Platforms sub-domain.

There are several challenges that plague this audacious sub-domain. Some of these include -

  1. The infamous network effect, which essentially means that users will flock to the social network with most users.

  2. Difficulty raising the capital needed for developing and marketing such a platform, especially since it is supposed to be a not-for-profit organization.

  3. Governments will be concerned that the new contender will accumulate too much power, similar to Facebook.

  4. How can the revenue be redirected to important causes? Who decides what they are, or which organizations promote them successfully and thus deserve the money injection?

I think part of your last sentence fell off there, @Roey.

A couple of suggestions re: your 1 and 3:

  • I think there’s a longing for an alternative to at least Facebook. I don’t think people feel very strongly about the other big platforms, but it seems the only reason so many people are staying on Facebook is that… so many people are staying on Facebook. I don’t know how to channel that demand into a viable alternative platform, but there is demand.
  • If it’s a not-for-profit, open-source platform, governments would be less concerned. Plus: I expect many politicians, especially here in Europe, would welcome alternatives to (American) big tech.

Thanks, Nick. I deleted that last sentence.

As for your comments -

  1. You’re absolutely right. That’s the network effect. We might see it spreading to Signal and Telegram, though, once there are enough users on these platforms.

  2. True that. But especially in Europe, how can not-for-profit platforms handle all the excessive regulation there, that inhibits innovation in those fields?

I’m not sure if EU regulations are “excessive”. My impression is this tends to get exaggerated by American tech companies, which aren’t (or weren’t) used to much regulation at all.

Regulation hinders innovation, but innovation isn’t the only thing we care about. Consider privacy and market concentration, the two areas in which the EU is active. Those, I think, are also exactly the reasons we’re debating alternative social networks, because (ahem) one of them doesn’t seem to care much about privacy at all, and there isn’t much competition between big tech altogether.

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I understand you’re concerned about privacy and monopolies, but as you say - the steps taken do hinder innovation.