Social Media Manifesto

What I really want is for somebody to start the social media site that plays the analogous role that credit unions do for banks.

It would be nonprofit and member-owned -- by its corporate charter, responsible to its users, not "shareholders"; by statute, unable to be bought out by any other for-profit entity who might change its priorities. It's not tasked with returning value to shareholders or making profit, so there's no incentive to betray users' trust or expectations about how their data will be used. Its bylaws can strictly enforce user privacy.

The only feature it needs is for people to be able to post their text, links, images, movies, and profile info, making it easy to designate each piece of data as being visible to various groups of other people (or public), and manage those groups a la Google's "circles."

No apps. No games. No "platform." No API that lets 3rd party apps post to your site automatically. If you want to let everybody know you arrived at your favorite cafe, that's fine, but you have to bloody type it in yourself.

No sharing or selling user's data to anyone, ever (not even anonymized or aggregate data). No 3rd party advertising to users on ordinary users' pages. No "what's hot" or other nonsense visible that isn't coming straight from the people you have asked to follow (in fact, that's not even possible because the company isn't allowed to data mine posts). Any changes to privacy policies must be "opt in".

Users are customers and owners, not product! It makes money by charging members for the actual storage of their posted data and the bandwidth used by people accessing it. This would cost the typical user only pennies per year (Amazon EBS charges $0.10 per GB per month). Add a reasonable percentage to cover overhead and staff salaries.

It could be free for individual, non-commercial, non-member users, though with storage and bandwidth limits. Paying members would have unlimited bandwidth and storage, that they pay for as I said above, and would also be able to vote in corporate elections and such.

Charge a premium to commercial/corporate (versus individual) users, who are then allowed to advertise their wares on their page as well as allow 3rd party ads via Google AdWords or the like, but those ads would not be able to track visitors or access any of the private information of visitors.

Who's with me?
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