MeWe (social media)

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MeWe
MeWe -2.png
Type of businessPrivate
Available inMultilingual (10)
Founded2012; 7 years ago (2012) in Mountain View, California
Headquarters,
U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Mark Weinstein
Key peopleMark Weinstein (CEO)
IndustryInternet
ProductsMeWe; MeWePro
Websitemewe.com

MeWe is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Culver City, California. It was founded by Mark Weinstein in 2012. The service touts its commitment to user privacy and control as its outstanding feature.

History[edit]

In 1998, Mark Weinstein, author and Internet corporate executive,[a] established SuperGroups.com, a social media Web site. The site was closed by its largest investor in 2001.[2] Gathering largely the same leadership team,[2] Weinstein incorporated Sgrouples Inc. in 2011.[3] The new firm was based in Mountain View, California.[3] Initially, Sgrouples focused on building an online storage site named MyCloud, where users were given 4GB of storage for free. Users were given the option to see only the advertising they chose (if any), while users requesting more than 4GB of storage space were charged a fee. MyCloud's proprietary application programming interface was not released to developers; instead, in a model similar to that used by Apple Inc., Sgrouples allowed third parties to license their code.[2]

Weinstein decided to create a social media site with strong privacy controls after hearing Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook say that "privacy is a social norm of the past."[4] MeWe was incorporated as a subsidiary of Sgrouples,[3] and based in Culver City, California.[5] In 2012, Sgrouples assembled a team of 30 software developers to begin work on MeWe.[6] Weinstein's goal was to give users of the site the maximum amount of privacy possible.[6] Over the next six years, MeWe raised about $4.8 million from wealthy individuals such as Lynda Weinman, founder of lynda.com; fashion designer Rachel Roy; and authors Jack Canfield and Marci Shimoff.[7][5]

By 2015, as MeWe neared the end of its beta testing cycle, the press called MeWe's software "not dissimilar to Facebook". Because of Weinstein's mandated privacy requirements, users retained control over what posts their contacts could see. The site retained a "like" feature similar to other social media sites, but a user's contacts were not notified when a user "liked" a post or image. Users were not able to make posts public for any visitor to see, and images could not be tagged. As with MyCloud, users retained the right to see any, all, or no advertising. Add-on features included online storage (for a fee), a "Pro" version (available for a fee), the ability to create fan pages, and a photo printing service (available for a fee).[6]

In 2016, MeWe was named a finalist for "Start-Up of the Year" in the Innovative World Technology category at SXSW, and made Entrepreneur magazine's list of the top 360 entrepreneurial companies of the year.[8]

MeWe finished its initial financing round in July 2018 by raising $5.2 million in new funds.[7][5] The company began work on upgrading MeWe and initiating work on an enterprise version called MeWePRO.[7]

Corporate governance[edit]

Mark Weinstein is the founder and chief executive officer of MeWe.[4]

Advisors to MeWe include father of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee[6][9] and filmmaker Cullen Hoback.[6]

Website[edit]

Features[edit]

The MeWe site and application has features common to most social media and social networking sites: Users can post text and images[b] to what the site calls their "Home Feed", users can "like" others' posts using emojis, there is a standard set of animated GIFs, users can create specialized groups, and there is online chat.[4][10] Users have control over how posts appear in their Home Feed (such as chronological, most recently commented upon, and more).[5] Posts set to "private" can be seen only by other users who are in a person's contact list;[10] while posts set to "public" appear to everybody. The latter feature was added after October 2018, when a wave of Google+ users "migrated" to MeWe. Users may also chose to allow only subsets of contacts see one's Home Feed posts.[4] Unlike most social media sites, MeWe does not notify users when their contacts make posts.[6] The "disappearing content" feature of MeWePRO[5] allows user content or posts to appear for a period of time (chosen by the user) and then be wiped from the site.[4][7]

Users may create groups as well as post. Groups may be Private (the group is seen only by its members, and the only way to join is to have an existing member issue an invitation), Selective (user may see and attempt to join the group, but approval by the group's owner or administrators is required), and Open (any user can see and join the group).[10][c] Group owners and administrators have the choice of listing the group in MeWe's "group directory".[10] MeWe reported in June 2018 that the site already had 90,000 active groups, 60,000 of which were "public" and open to all users.[5]

Online chat may occur between two or more people or among members of a group.[7] Person-to-person online chat is similar to that in most other social media and social networking sites, and supports text, video calling, and voice calling.[10] "Secret Chat" is a special feature of MeWePRO[5] which uses double ratchet encryption[7] to ensure that chats are private (even from MeWe itself). Secret Chat is free for the first 30 days; longer access requires a subscription fee.[10] Each group also supports a chat feature.[10][d]

"Privacy Mail" is another feature of MeWe. It is similar to the standalone Facebook Messenger app for Android and iOS.[4]

MeWe provides each user with 8GB of free online storage for images, video, and similar items.[4] Up to 500GB of storage is available for a fee.[9]

The mobile app version of MeWe also contains a "custom camera", which utilizes the user's mobile phone camera to take images and video and import them into MeWe.[7]

As of December 2018, MeWe was available in Macintosh and Windows desktop version as well as a mobile app for devices running Android or iOS. It was also available in English and nine other languages.[8]

Terms of service[edit]

MeWe's terms of service agreement contains a "Privacy Bill of Rights" in which the company pledges never to engage in data mining of user information or content, or to filter the Home Feed in any way except that chosen by the user.[4] A "poison pill" clause in the agreement forbids MeWe from changing the terms of service without first alerting users.[6]

The MeWe pledges in its user agreement to never use cookies[6] or spyware[7] to generate content about users, and that it will not track user activity in any way or sell user data to a third party.[6]

Unlike with many other social media and social networking sites, MeWe does not claim ownership of user-generated content. Users have the right to completely download and delete all their data when closing their account.[5]

Business model[edit]

MeWe calls itself the "alternative to Facebook", and emphasizes its commitment to privacy over generating revenue.[5]

MeWe pledges in its terms of service agreement to remain a free service.[4][7] The MeWe business model does not rely on data mining or advertising revenue.[7] MeWe generates revenue from Secret Chat and extra storage fees, and by selling custom emojis.[10] In June 2018, MeWe said it was already generating revenue from the MeWePRO enterprise service[7] would generate revenue in the future from "MeWe Pages", a paid add-on to the service.[4]

MeWe passed the four million member mark in the middle of March 2019.[11]

Reception[edit]

According to Google Play, MeWe was the top trending social media app in its store in December 2018.[4] MeWe claimed 300 percent growth in the number of users in 2018.[4] The company said it was adding 30,000 members every day (even though it was not advertising). This is likely primarily caused by the site marketing itself to the Google+ userbase, as Google had recently undergone a data breach which revealed plans of ending the site.[8]

In a 2015 review of the beta-testing MeWe service, British writer John Leonard called MeWe "well-designed and pretty intuitive". There's an app too that functions reasonably smoothly. But he questioned whether the company's business model was a viable one.[6] Andrew Orr, reviewing the site in April 2018, felt that service was a good one but that it did not any advantages over existing social media sites. That, he felt, would make it difficult for MeWe to attract users.[10]

Science communication experts Rachel Alter, Tonay Flattum-Riemers, and Lucky Tran have expressed concerns about MeWe's strong privacy standards because, they say, the standards provide a place for anti-vaccine and other science denial advocates to congregate without the threat of deplatforming. They can also create an "echo chamber" effect which cannot be breached by either the social media site, public health professionals, or those with other views.[12]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ He wrote three books about effective communication and work habits, each using the title Habitually Great, as well as a series of articles about privacy issues for Huffington Post.[1]
  2. ^ The user may also stream live voice or live video if subscribing to MeWePRO.[5]
  3. ^ These settings may be changed at any time by the group's owners.[10]
  4. ^ As of June 2018, once a member of a group is included in a group chat, there is no way to leave the chat. This can cause the user to be overwhelmed with chat notifications. These notifications can be muted, however.[10]
Citations
  1. ^ "Cybertruth". USA Today. November 14, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Fontana, John (August 7, 2012). "Will Sgrouples end social networking's attack on privacy?". ZDNet. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Company Overview of Sgrouples Inc". Bloomberg. February 26, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brown, Shelby (December 13, 2018). "Can MeWe become the anti-Facebook of social media?". CNET. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Amore, Samson (July 7, 2018). "Facebook Alternative MeWe Raises $5.2M". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leonard, John (April 14, 2015). "Social media without the snooping—nice idea but can it really work?". Computing. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Chen, I-Chun (July 5, 2018). "Facebook alternative MeWe raises $5.2 million in funds". L.A. Biz. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "MeWe is the No. 1 trending social media site". Arizona Business Magazine. December 13, 2018. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Orr, Andrew (April 16, 2018). "The Father of the Web is Backing a Private Social Network". Mac Observer. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Orr, Andrew (April 19, 2018). "Review: MeWe is a Private Social Network Taking on Facebook". Mac Observer. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  11. ^ Hernandez, Alex (March 14, 2019). "Privacy-focused social media outlet MeWe has passed 4 million users". Techaeris.com. Retrieved March 14, 2019; Orr, Andrew (March 14, 2019). "Privacy Social Network MeWe Reaches 4 Million Members". MacObserver. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  12. ^ Tran, Lucky; Alter, Rachel; Flattum-Riemers, Tonay (March 5, 2019). "Anti-vaxx propaganda is flooding the internet. Will tech companies act?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 6, 2019.