Developers, it’s time to #flipoffsocialmedia
How’s that for a title? I had to use that title so that it would show up in your social media feeds, and that is exactly the point of this post. If I had used my original title, “Calling all developers and entrepreneurs who want to create responsible social media apps” you would probably never see this post — and that is part of the problem.
Where we are today
For anyone who has seen the Netflix docudrama, The Social Dilemma, listened to Tristan Harris and Daniel Schmachtenberger on Joe Rogan’s podcast #1736, or watched Frances Haugen’s testimony before Congress, you know that social media is really bad for our youth, our families, and our democracy in many ways, including:
- The polarization of our world — Social media algorithms are designed to feed people extreme posts. They understand the ways people lean and push them further by selectively showing them incendiary posts that make them feel like “it’s us against them,” whoever “them” is, liberals, conservatives, even your own family members. Social media has even toppled governments around the world and brought about civil unrest and chaos.
- Accountability/Trust — In addition to the algorithms, there are millions of bots created by Russia and China (as referenced in the podcast) that are working to destroy our nation from the inside out. Facebook shuts down 2 billion (yes, 2 billion) fake accounts per quarter. There needs to be a trust model on social media and a way to make people accountable for what they post.
- Online relationships debasing personal relationships — We are all looking at our phones instead of engaging in conversation with those around us. Technology should enhance our offline relationships and democracy not replace them or damage them.
Social media companies never set out to do these things, the problems above are simply collateral damage of the current business models for social media — surveillance and advertising. The divisions amongst our friends, the damaging of our youth, the breaking of our democracy is all due to the business models of a few large tech companies.
We at Atsign are reaching out to developers and entrepreneurs who want to change this, because we believe it can be changed. We know there are developers out there who feel the same call to action and we want to help you build the next generation of social media.
What you can do as a developer or entrepreneur
You can build socially responsible apps and products that are actually more fun and more engaging because of the addition of personas (which show different information to different groups of people) than any current social media, because we have created a new open-source platform that assures data privacy for all people. (BTW, we don’t call them users, we call them people.)
How we can help
We built an open-source platform so that you can build apps that respect people and their privacy. There are so many benefits to building on the platform including:
- Faster — You don’t have to build out a backend database and infrastructure when you develop an app on the platform, all that drudgery is done for you. You also don’t have to figure out how to secure all that data, it’s also done for you. Everything on the platform is end-to-end encrypted, and only the data owner has the keys.
- No cost — You don’t need to find a service to host the application servers or the database — that is all handled for you, at no cost to you.
- More fun — With the atPlatform, you always know who you are talking to, so you can provide different information (personas) for different groups of people. This makes the platform way more fun and engaging for social media apps.
- Support throughout your journey — If you have an idea and a passion to build an app that falls within this realm, but need support to bring it to life, we are here to help. We can help you get started, make the right connections, and help you along your journey.
Flipping the internet
We are able to provide all of this for developers by flipping the Internet.
The way the Internet works today is that software developers build apps that own the data. A person has to log into each app and manage their data which is owned by that app. Then they must log into the next app and manage some of the exact same data on a different app. People are expected to keep all this duplicate data, at all these sites, up-to-date. The person has no say in what happens to that data, and it’s mined, surveilled, and used so that the person can be manipulated to buy something or stay on a site longer.
None of this is good for the person, and new privacy legislation makes it increasingly difficult for the companies implementing technology in this way.
So we decided to flip the internet:
On the atPlatform, everyone owns their own data and the apps log into them.
For the person, this is wonderful:
- Apps don’t own data — people own data
- Apps are peer-to-peer
- No more duplicate data, out-of-date data, surveillance usernames, or passwords
- Data is updated in one place, so that apps with access have the latest information
But it’s even better for software developers, because you get:
- Automatic privacy compliance
- Savings on infrastructure cost
- Peer-to-peer capabilities
- Faster development
We started with Flutter
If you haven’t yet used Flutter for app development, we strongly encourage you to give it a try! Our initial SDK works with Flutter, which we selected because you can create one code base that will run on all platforms, including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. The Flutter documentation is excellent and the community is booming.
We want to help
But how do you make money?
We all want a better world and a better internet, but there needs to be business models that will fuel the growth of this new frontier. So if there is no advertising on the platform, then how does a developer or entrepreneur make money? Well we have some great ideas for future business models that we would love to tell you about. But there is a way that you can start making money as soon as your app is available.
Everyone on the atPlatform needs their own unique atSign. We give away fun atSigns for free, but if someone wants a specific atSign, then they have to pay for it. If yours is the first app that they pair with when they have their shiny new purchased atSign, then you get a commission on that atSign. We can also provide you with a unique link that will allow you to earn commission on atSign purchases you refer. (Don’t worry, no tracking required!)
Yep, you don’t pay us, we pay you!
Feel free to contact us to hear about future business models for your apps.
Now for some inspiration
Here are a few apps that have already been created on the atPlatform:
- @buzz — Peer-to-peer sharing. You can share contact information, pictures, or even confidential information such as wifi password or gate keys with just the people that you want. Remove access at any point in time and the information disappears from their phone! Find it in the App Store or Play Store.
- atmopsherePro — Peer-to-peer, fully encrypted file transfer. Only you and the recipient have the keys to the file. Find it in the App Store or Play Store.
- atWavi — Your public profile or weblet that you actually own. It’s your profile, your way, you can even add videos and other animated or embedded content. Find it in the App Store or Play Store.
And, for even more inspiration, here are a few apps that are currently in development:
- atSpaceChat — Chat safely and make new friends. Send signal messages into space or search for signals from other people to start a new chat. Easily interrupt your signal and withdraw all messages and data. Built on the atPlatform, atSpaceChat puts your privacy first. If you are interested in being a beta tester, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- @flock — Birds of a feather flock together. Privately share household information and tasks among those sharing a home, apartment, dorm, or community. If you are interested in being a beta tester, send an email to: email@example.com.
- @social — An ethical social media app that is solving all the problems created by feeds, likes, and followers. People, not machines, are in control of this next-generation social media app. If you are interested in being a beta tester, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get started
As a developer
Head on over to our getting started section on atsign.dev.
As an entrepreneur
Contact us. We know some fabulous third-party developers who are capable of building out your vision for a new, more engaging, more respectful social app.
I’m writing this post on Thanksgiving day, 2021, though it will most likely be posted at a later date because I appreciate getting insights from my colleagues before I post anything. But it seems appropriate to write this on Thanksgiving day. At Atsign, we call ourselves Internet Optimists. We believe that there are some amazing people in the world that we can team up with, who want to create better experiences and a better society on the internet. We have already attracted some amazing people, from investors, to team members, to friends who are cheering us on — so much to be thankful for. I hope you will join us and be a part of this revolution!
Authored by Barbara Tallent, Atsign Co-founder/CEO — @barbara