Minds Represents the Future of Social Media Because They Pay Their Users For Posts

Written By Neil McKenzie-Sutter, Posted on July 13, 2020

In the last few weeks, the social media news was all abuzz about Parler. 

Parler this, Parler that. Parler, Parler, Parler, Parler. Seeing all these stories; I was sick of reading the name Parler. 

But Parler really is not a game changing social media site. They have a conservative audience, but the mechanics of it are very similar to Twitter. Parler does let you write 1000 character posts rather than 420 on Twitter, which is kinda nice. 

With the massive influx of users, the site has been experiencing some bugs, so in that regard it isn’t much better than Twitter. 

Also, there are accusations that Parler is also engaging in too much heavy handed censorship, which has to be pointed out is exactly the same problem as the older, sites, and is hypocritical seeing as Parler markets itself as pro-free speech. 

However, unlike Parler, there are some social media sites that are taking things to the next level, and one of these sites that has slowly been gaining prominence is Minds.com

Minds has been a slow bloomer, going online in a Beta form in 2015, and having been founded even further back in 2011. 

And what Minds is doing that is so different is they’ve committed to paying their users for content that they post. 

I’ll get to how they’re paying people in a moment, but doesn’t this seem like an intuitive, smart move for a social media company to make? 

And yet it’s well known that almost all the top, legacy social media companies are doing the opposite: sure they’re FREE to join but they do steal your info, which is where those creepy predictive ads that show up in your newsfeed. However, it is actually worse and creepier than just that.

Not only is it stuff you put on your account, but the legacy social media apps can also grab your info from other apps, too.

As an example, have you ever gotten a notification from Facebook, asking for permission to get to your contacts on your phone? 

Technically they shouldn’t even be asking you that, but if you do, Facebook at least has admitted to being able to doing something especially spooky with that data you’ve given them: they’re able to create ‘ghost/or shadow profiles’ of the people associated with those phone numbers. 

Even if you have never had a Facebook account or have had one and deleted it, Facebook can build one of these shadow profiles and can gather information on you and sell that information to advertisers. 

They [Facebook] compromise everybody’s data,” Bill Ottman, CEO & Founder of Minds.com, said in a 2019 interview with the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “Like you wanna talk about unsecure, there’s no more unsecure site that exists.”

This idea of Facebook selling users’ data was a major reason why Ottman decided to start Minds.com, and from the start it was set up to be an anti-Facebook. 

The entire source code that powers Minds is publicly available, whereas this code is not available for all the other social media giants. And why isn’t it available? 

While it isn’t useful for the average Joe to have access to this, because they wouldn’t understand it, making this information public does show a desire for transparency on the behalf of Minds.com and allows Internet watchdogs, human rights’ groups and freedom of speech advocates an avenue to criticize the site if it begins to make moves that may be harming or manipulating their users. 

Facebook and other sites have for years been facing criticism on this exact issue: that their algorithms are built in a way to be deliberately manipulative of their users, but one way of addressing this criticism would be to make their code/programs public so they can be investigated by independent observers freely. This would be incredibly simple to do, however the legacy sites have been unwilling to do this thus far. 

 This question of openness about software that Bill Ottman is asking is worthwhile taken in the context of the social media environment we live in today, considering the amount of power these social media network sites have over our daily lives. 

I think they’re scared because they know they’ve betrayed everybody,” Ottman said in the Rogan interview, referring not just to Facebook here, but the other, major legacy social media sites as well, such as Twitter and YouTube.

In this same vein, Minds also taken the unprecedented step of creating a Bill of Rights for their users, not just a terms and conditions page that you must agree to before creating an account that so many of the other social media networks have, including Parler even.

Minds also states that it intends to follow the ‘The Manila Principles On Intermediary Liability,’ which is thought to be a form of an Internet Bill of Rights, similar to the American 1st amendment which guarantees freedom of expression for American citizens.

Of course, on Minds.com as it is in the real world, freedom of speech is a lot trickier than it sounds, and it is so easy to throw stones at these social media CEO’s and the networks themselves that that becomes very easy to forget for the average person. 

To be clear, I’m not saying that Minds.com allows for complete and total freedom of speech because they make mistakes and there are not-clear cut cases. However, the essence of policy of Minds.com on free speech is that if it is not illegal, it should be allowed to stay on the platform. 

Again, this is not a perfect system, if you are looking for a social media site that espouses free speech as a real value, you should be looking for a site that has a Bill of Rights as Minds does. 

There have been plenty of sites including Parler that claim to be in favour of free speech, but seem just be using the concept as a marketing tool and aren’t really committed to that as a value. 

Indeed, Twitter’s corporate slogan used to be ‘the free speech platform of the free speech party,’ which if it were still used today could only be thought of as a joke, given all the censorship scandals Twitter has been through, only in the past few years, even

The problem with these other social media sites is that they frequently change their terms of service. They are frequently criticized when they do make these changes, however they do it anyway and while this doesn’t mean Minds.com couldn’t be corrupted in the future, their decision to committed themselves the ‘Manila Principles,’ which is a third party standard outside of the Minds.com company, is something to hold onto for now at least. 

This principle of freedom of speech and also the publicly available nature of their source code directly ties into how users should view the currency Minds pays their users with: the Minds Token. 

The Minds Token system works by rewarding users for their contributions to the social network, for example if you get more upvotes, comments, or ‘re-minds’ (retweets), you’ll end up getting a better payout than you did yesterday (the Minds system cashes out at the end of every 24 hours period). 

How could you trust the value of a social media-based currency, which was based off your contributions to the network, if you felt your posts were being censored or being manipulated by a hostile algorithm, which you might rightly suspect was having a negative effect on spreading your content? 

Or what if you spend years saving up a social media currency, only to find yourself banned for a vague, unexplained reason? 

Or what if, also, the social network changed their terms & conditions, and then your content which was perfectly acceptable one day, was unacceptable the next? 

The answer is that social media currency would not and can not be, logically, considered as trustworthy or dependable as the Minds Token. The fact that Minds has devloped this formal currency is another reason for them to uphold their free speech values.

Neil McKenzie-Sutter

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