As many of our closest followers know by now, we had recently launched GRPsupport.com (currently in BETA). It’s the equivalent of a home-cooked social networking meal with all-natural ingredients sourced from the Net’s most trusted organic digital farms and none of the artificial toxicity of the mass-produced “services” on offer in Big Corporate Social Media sites and apps. Note the difference in the term “social networking” and “social media”. Social networking was what Facebook originally was — before carpetbaggers coined the term “social media” to describe what it was to become: the next media behemoth (a label that stuck like a rash and is now keeping its CEO Mark Zuckerberg awake most nights and national regulators nipping at his heels).
GRPsupport will, by no means, be a Facebook-killer. But we feel it is a viable alternative to building a community of users out to do real good or, at least, to promote what is real and authentic. We aspire to build a community for the users and by the users to borrow an old cliché. It is by no means groundbreaking. The site encourages users to do only three things we used to do back at the dawn of the World Wide Web:
(1) Post stuff (short shoutout or long “blog”, it doesn’t matter) and comment on these;
(2) Maintain personal profiles where one’s site activities are featured; and,
(3) Organise into open Groups.
We differentiate GRPsupport by highlighting what it does NOT have:
(1) No newsfeed.
(2) No following or “friends”
(3) No “likes” or “dislikes”
The above three common features shared by Big Corporate Social Media enterprises together form the core of what made social media toxic. Allow us to explain.
Conventional newsfeeds and timelines only exhibit content one chooses to follow. This is what resulted in those now-infamous echo chambers that became breeding grounds for the cancerous groupthink and braincell-killing mutual-backpatting that had intellectually-bankrupted online debate and perverted entire national elections. On GRPsupport the focus is on serendipity in discovering information and on articulating ideas and not just on voting for or against them. When one lacks the ability to merely “like”, “retweet”, or “share” information and only has one engagement option — to comment on information — the discourse becomes more honest and more intelligent. The deep specifics and details of thoughts are revealed rather than mere primal sentiments expressed glibly.
Most important of all, we’re keeping things simple. Really.
One of the biggest broken promises of Big Corporate Social Media is the promise to keep things simple. After erstwhile King of the Net MySpace became a wasteland of bad HTML coding and page layouting, Facebook swooped in and yanked its lunch away in the mid-2000s offering a clean interface, straightforward user experience, and transparent, first-in-first-out content presentation on its then-groundbreaking Newsfeed feature. That core appeal of Facebook back then is now gone. In its place is a bloated platform of vested interests that is trying to be everything in a mad effort to dominate the Net. This is thanks to how execs of public corporations are incentivised — a drive to grow revenues ad infinitum to keep shareprices afloat and shareholder returns rolling in.
Thus, the business models of virtually all Big Corporate Social Media businesses are practically the same — entice users to interact with their services and inadvertently enter data that can be used to infer preferences and predict behaviours. Users of Big Corporate Social Media are not the customer, they are the product. Milking cows may feel like dairy farmers exist to feed them and make their lives as comfy as possible. In reality, dairy farmers’ real customers are milk consumers. Same principle. Big Corporate Media are the 21st Century digital dairy farmers. We users are the clueless milking cows.
Unfortunately, Big Corporate Social Media is going down the same path as those institutions of “journalism” in Big Corporate Media. They have lost the trust of their users and are, increasingly, attracting the scrutiny of regulators and legislators keen to see their legal frameworks rid of the loopholes that allow these technology platforms to behave with impunity. For many such enterprises that had built their business model almost wholly on the practice of harvesting data from their users and selling “insights” gleaned from this to third parties, it is too late to change. Community platforms that vie to be alternatives to this establishment are expected to be different.
Join our social experiment to explore such alternatives. Logon to GRPsupport and register as a member. See and experience the difference. Feel what it is like to be part of a real online community of people who aspire to contribute ideas and uplift the discourse by participating in an honest and intelligent manner.
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