Censorship and echo chambers are limiting the potential of the internet. Can Minds.com create a place for sustained engagement online?
Twitter and Facebook have problems as outlets for complex thoughts.
On Twitter and Facebook, those who make executive decisions on trending searches and hashtags are sculpting public opinion, the shadowy modern incarnation of the daily news.
Twitter has been rife with controversy, with users accusing the site of silencing certain hashtags and banning some cultural renegades, such as Azealia Banks and Milo Yiannopoulos, whilst allowing ISIS accounts to continue on unblemished.
Facebook bears the banner of ‘#woke’, a toe-deep political stance toward certain social issues purely for optics and advertising purposes. Zuckerberg will de-activate Facebook accounts at police request, and those who curate tending topics on the site gift us with such gems as constant news on Lena Dunham, Trump, and other junk data.
Facebook routinely removes both alt-right and Black Lives Matter content, presenting a benevolent mask publicly and removing ‘extreme’ content privately.
Platforms with thousands of followers tend to preach to the choir, sculpted by the expectations of their audience to ‘drag’ or defend public figures and ideas without any real foundation save for a chosen partisan position.
And finally, YouTube has begun a scuffle with its content creators through a new terms of service that potentially demonetizes content deemed ‘controversial’.
In the 21st Century, thinking people want the freedom to be controversial, and authors, activists and content creators want to be able to build a following on their own terms.
Minds.com is attempting to provide a platform to do just that, an encrypted open-source software where users earn points through regular engagement on the site, and can use those points to promote their content directly to other users or to the site’s front page.
The goal of the site is to help independent thinkers create and keep followings, and to open a discourse beyond the limits of Twitter and Facebook’s unchecked power. Freedom of speech is a priority, and well-reasoned debates are expected. The site hosts voices from any corner of the political, philosophical and religious spectrum, and the points system is meant to expose users to a broader collection of ideas than just a few trending hashtags and their selected ideological corners.
Of course, the aim is also for content creators to build and monetize their following, freeing them from the respectability politics of traditional jobs and platforms that are comfortable with censorship.
The success of Minds.com will depend on its base of users.
Do people seek to confirm their biases, or to understand the world and all its paradigms?
For those who seek a broad base of ideas and understanding, freed from the dishonesty of mainstream punditry and their traditional social circles, Minds.com could become an oasis online, a network like Wordpress connecting a new generation of thinkers who seek technology as a means to improve their thought, not stagnate it.
If you’re someone with big ideas, who wants a following or wants to follow a multitude of others, sign up and start creating the internet you want to see.
Minds.com seems to be an excellent place to start.
Alexander Blum is the author of 21st Century Slave.
His website on politics, philosophy, religion and art can be found here: www.alexanderblum.net