Two years ago, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales launched Wikitribune, an online publication meant to combat fake news with original stories by reporters and “citizen journalists.” Wikitribune never really caught on, so now, Wales is shifting gears. Wikitribune is relaunching as WT:Social, a social-networking site and news sharing platform. He hopes it will be an alternative to Facebook and Twitter.
Like those platforms, WT:Social will let users share articles. But WT:Social will be funded by donations, rather than advertising. “The business model of social media companies, of pure advertising, is problematic,” Wales told Financial Times. “It turns out the huge winner is low-quality content.”
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which use algorithms to bump posts with the most comments or likes to the top, WT:Social will show the newest links first. It may add an “upvote” button in the future.
WT:Social will also support small, niche communities. Those sound wholesome now (think: beekeeping), but we’ve seen how small communities can fester online. WT:Social promises, “We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line.”
WT:Social will be free to join, but at the moment, you either have to sign up for a waitlist, donate or invite friends. Just a month old, it already has 50,000 users, Wales told FT, adding “Obviously the ambition is not 50,000 or 500,000 but 50m and 500m.”