Social media or any depictions of our curated selves online have become a norm more than a luxury in under a decade. Mostly with your explicit permission, every detail about your mundane life can be posted online to enhance your appearance. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 14 year old trying to be cool at school or if you’re a medical student trying to keep your online presence free from those raunchy Spring Break photos, there’s one thing common among all: the increasingly convoluted privacy concerns. The bastion of social interaction, Facebook, suffers from a surprisingly balanced amount of grievances and lauded claims of global importance. So what happens when a ridiculously large social network has to struggle to pacify its burgeoning membership along with constantly exploring new avenues of monetization? What is does, is create a gap.
An Important Gap
This gap provides entrepreneurs, social media enthusiasts and bloggers the ripe opportunity to create or support something new. By tapping into the collective grievances of all Facebookers who just cannot stop bitching about Timeline, the new photo display format or not being able to easily change privacy settings, some social media startups have already started leveraging a new competitive advantage: Not being Facebook.
Arguably, Google+ seemed to have stepped in the right direction with highly structured and tiered sharing. Barring all sarcastic comments referring to its long-term viability, Google+ did tout privacy and sharing controls as its greatest feature.
Late last year, Unthink launched calling itself just that: an Anti-Facebook social community. With adequate funding, unthink is promoting just one thing: You are not a user, but an owner.
Unlike Facebook, unthink claims to not sell your information or user data to advertisers. Being private or public is entirely your choice. Unthink claims to even give you the choice of communicating separately with companies and users; with incentivized points system for engagement with a brand. Unthink may be ambitious to directly compete against Facebook while also competing against Twitter, Groupon and LinkedIn through specific services, but they aren’t the only ones.
Social Live (SL) is another player in this space, seems to be a combination of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Myspace (yeesh!) but not just a bastard child spawned from a nasty social experiment gone wrong in the basement of a social media swinger’s club.
Amusingly named Warrior Girl Corp. reiterates Facebook users’ collective disdain with privacy controls. SL wants to give you theme management, simple settings and notifications, one click blog posts, custom pages, ability to have attachments, PMs, events, live chats, a feed like Facebook’s newsfeed, forums, tagging, polls, quizzes, videos, shout box, emoticons and other features.
Whooh, that’s a mouthful.
Personally, aside from some new features, this doesn’t seem any different from Facebook to me. But just having better control and simpler privacy settings along with publishing my own blog simply out of day-to-day online lurking already has me intrigued. Of course, none of this works if it looks ugly or if the PR speak does not match the UI/UX.
Well, let’s just wait and see.
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Sumit Pathak and I attended the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University MBA Program together. Sumit is currently studying law with an emphasis on Intellectual Property at New York Law School. Aside from his stellar academic credentials, Sumit is a geek, a gamer and the earliest of adopters. He always knows about the newest technology weeks and months before I even hear about the rumor. He is someone who I hold in the highest esteem for his intelligence, personality as well as his insights on technology and culture.