Civil Social Networks: Telepath & Clubhouse

Segment from Episode 326 of the Beyond Social Media Show

Several entreprenuers are trying to rebuild social media from the ground up, with new features and codes of conduct that they hope will create a more civil environment and one less susceptible to manipulation by malign influences.

Episode Transcript

David Erickson: So I can’t remember–Casey Newton: Has he left The Verge?

BL Ochman: He has left The Verge.

David Erickson: Or did he just take his subscribers and launch…? Okay, he’s left The Verge. So this is a piece by Casey Newton, in his last days at The Verge. And it is a great piece.

Telepath Launched By Quora Veterans

David Erickson: It’s about a new social network called Telepath. Telepath was launched by or started by Richard Henry and Marc Bodnick, who had previously worked at Quora together. They have had Telepath in beta and they announced a wider release recently. It is only available in private beta right now; it requires an invitation I asked for one, so please give me one.

Hybrid Of Twitter & Reddit

David Erickson: But it is a hybrid of Twitter and Reddit. And so there’s like Twitter, it has a central scrolling feed of updates. But like Reddit, every post needs to be created within a group, within a subsection of the site like subReddits are on Reddit.

Real Identity Required

David Erickson: It requires real names. So when you sign up, you have to sign up with your real name, which the article cites that it obviously it makes it difficult for activists and dissidents who want to remain anonymous. It requires a real mobile number as well.

Behavior Code Of Conduct

David Erickson: But it also tells you how to act. So the other social networks never told us: This is what we expect of you, the user, on how to behave on the platform. So the first rule is actual behavioral norms for your time spent on Telepath.

Rules Of Civility

David Erickson: And they are: Be kind, don’t be mean, don’t attack people or insult what they post, assume that people have good intentions. And if a reasonable person would think that you’re being a jerk, that’s not okay. Persistent behavior that’s on the line–so this is where, you know, people skirt the boundaries of policies–persistent behavior, that’s on the line, is not okay.

Human Moderators

David Erickson: Okay, so it’s setting up these are the norms of the of the community that you have to abide by. They plan to add moderators as it grows. And they’re assuming…they’re assuming that they will have lower profit margins, eventually, because they’re going to have a heavy investment in fulltime employees working on these issues.

Privacy Baked In

David Erickson: They decided to launch more widely only after implementing a key privacy feature, which is that the conversations delete by default after 30 days. So taking a page from Snapchat’s playbook. But you can save save your conversations to your private archive as well

A Different Approach To Social

David Erickson: But it’s an interesting, different approach; learning from what everybody else has not learned, you know, of all the other social channels of what is wrong with them. So we’ll see how it works. But I’m anxious to get my invite, because I definitely want to try this out and see how it works.

Similar To Clubhouse

BL Ochman: It’s in many ways very similar to Clubhouse, which I…where you have to be brought in by a person. You know, you’re not just given invitations. I haven’t quite figured out how I get an invitation.

But there is the same thing there. It didn’t start out with the rules of behavior but they had to evolve. It’s limited in size right now. But eventually it’s very well financed and it will be a huge network.

Problems At Clubhouse

BL Ochman: There have already been problems there with stalking and anti-semitism and insults and there are moderators, there will over time, I’m sure, be paid moderators.

Clubhouse Is Voice Only

BL Ochman: There’s one person who runs a dinner, a virtual dinner on Saturday night and a hundred people come to that. And the difference between it and what I think you’re describing is that Clubhouse is voice only. And at the moment only on iOS. But you have to have your real name, you have to have a picture, you have to have a bio. You know, it’s…you have to be, you have to raise your hand if you have something to say if you’re not a moderator.

24/7 Conversations

BL Ochman: But what I find astounding about it–and I guess it’s astounding about every social network–is that people are talking constantly, twenty four hours a day; like, I don’t know, doesn’t anybody do anything else anymore except talk? I don’t quite get it.

David Erickson: BL, there are different time zones in the world.

BL Ochman: The same people, it’s the same people. They’re always there. I’m not going to name them but I wonder what the hell else they do.

David Erickson: The article does cite Clubhouse.

BL Ochman: Yes.

Up Front Expected Behavior

David Erickson: It does make the comparison to Clubhouse. What I found fascinating about it was, one, of the rules of behavior from the start; but also, you know, saying at the outset that we don’t expect to make as much money as the other channels are making. And that’s, I think, a key aspect of it.

Framing Growth Expectations

David Erickson: Because if you’re then getting investors, or your intention is going public, then you’re setting up the framing of it that we don’t–to be successful, we don’t have to be like everybody else.

And you know, that’s kind of the brilliance of what what Jeff Bezos did with Amazon. See, he didn’t make money for forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. He just–that was–it was just growth and growth and growth in different areas. So we’ll see how that works. But I’m impressed with the approach, anyway.

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