LONDON (Bywire News) - It’s been billed as the antidote to Facebook and, from Saturday for the first time, the general public will get to have a go. Voice.com is here and it hopes to change the way we think about social media.
Voice originally launched on Valentine’s Day with a small beta test group, then about a month ago it opened to everyone, but in read-only mode. Visitors to their site could read posts, but only a select few super early adopters could generate content. Nevertheless, it was enough to provide a tantalising glimpse at what they had planned. Today, Voice provided every existing member ten invitations to be shared with their most valued friends, family, or colleagues.
Rewriting the rules
Run on the Blockchain Voice.com set out to create a new type of social media platform: one which is run for its users and in which every profile must belong to a genuine verified human being.
It’s a world away from the model of social media which we’ve all come to know and despise in which fake news and fake accounts are everywhere, hate speech is allowed to spread, amplified by automated bot networks, unchecked, and in which platforms see their users as commodities not valued customers.
“We believe Voice is social as it should be — where what’s good for the platform is also good for you,” they announced proudly at the time.
Voice plans to return value to its own users through the use of its Voice token. For every piece of content which is liked or Voiced, the author receives token rewards as does the all those who Voiced content. Learn more about the Voice tokenomics here.
The more engagement a post receives the more prominently it appears on the platform, with the user able to determine how their feed is generated. Users can order their feed by most recent, most Voiced, most liked, or most active posts. The Voice team regularly share updates from their various departments, detailing exactly how their platform operates, how feeds are generated, and rewards determined, to name but a few. It is clear they are transparent with their community and understand that building Voice with the support of earliest and early adopters will help create and sustain an engaged, determined, and resourceful foundation to leverage into an audience of critical mass. It is an approach in which everyone’s interests, whether creators or readers, are aligned.
Voice has been in development for well over a year ever since a high-profile launch event in Washington DC in which Brendan Blumer CEO of parent company Block.one set out its vision.
“The truth is social media is designed to use its users,” he said. “Just look at the business model. Our content. Our data. Our attention. These are all incredibly valuable things. But right now, it's the platform, not the user, that reaps the reward. By design, they run by auctioning our information to advertisers, pocketing the profit, and flooding our feeds with hidden agendas dictated by the highest bidder. Voice changes that.”
Facebook, Twitter and especially Donald Trump’s new nemesis, Tik Tok, are all to a greater or lesser extent data scraping devices which view their users as commodities. Profiles are easy to set up, as are fake profiles, making it all too easy to spread false information, something political campaigns, and governments, have used to their advantage. For example, approximately half of social media accounts commenting on COVID 19 have turned out to be fake bots.
“Quite frankly it’s the difference between Voice and all social media,” commented Salah Zalatimo CEO of Voice.
“If you were to go back in time and start Facebook from scratch, I’m pretty sure it would be unanimous that we should verify people are people. We have the luxury of being able to do that today.”
Blockchain has been championed as a solution to the problem of fake news on social media for some time. The launch of Voice.com, therefore, has the potential to be a pivotal moment both in how we consume social media and how businesses use our data.
Ready to go
The stage, then, is set and for the next few weeks, we’ve had a taste of what to expect. With the site in read-only format most of us have had to watch on and consume the content being produced by the select group of registered users known by the site as the genesis class’ of 2020. These ultra early adopters are now set to be rewarded for their efforts with a token bonus. This is because all existing token balances will eventually reset, providing a level playing field for all users.
Among the new features coming to the platform have been Human sign up which uses facial recognition to provide a much more frictionless sign up process without the need to upload verification documents, verifying if you are a real person or not. The feature is intended to make the onboarding process as quick and frictionless as any other social media platform while still verifying user identities.
From Saturday August 15, though, things get going in earnest as the platform finally throws open its doors to the public and introduces an invite a friend feature.
In a post on Voice published on Thursday, Landon Marcellus Arrington said: “Today, you can find a new option in the menu and on your profile to invite friends to Voice. Starting today, everyone who is a Voice user can invite 10 people to the platform. Each person you invite will receive a unique code to join. It’s just as easy as it sounds: enter their name and email address, and we’ll do the rest.”
The site’s ‘very patient’ waitlist of wannabe users will also get their invitations as the platform expands its reach to a total of 23 new countries including the UK, Australia, Kenya and the Philippines with more expected soon. You can see the full list here.
Voice.com, then, has big ambitions, matched by a strong, dynamic, and youthful team. Its aim is nothing less than to take on the giants of social media and put right what they made wrong. It’s benefited from a huge cash injection of $150 million from Block.one and benefits from an active and passionate community who have been waiting for a chance to see how the blockchain and token incentives can revolutionise social media.
(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Michael O’Sullivan)