|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Distributed social network|
|Headquarters||Glastonbury, Connecticut, US|
|Alexa rank||11,368 (September 2020[update])|
|Registration||Required to post, follow, or be followed; anonymous registration allowed|
|Users||2.5+ million registered (self-reported, July 2020[update])|
300,000 (monthly active, self-reported, July 2020[update])
|Operating system||iOS, Android|
Minds is a free and open-source distributed social networking service. Users are awarded tokens for engaging with the service, which they can spend to boost their posts or crowdfund other users. The service has been described as more privacy-focused than mainstream social media networks. Engadget and Vice have criticized Minds for its preponderance of far-right users and content.
Minds was co-founded in 2011 by Bill Ottman and John Ottman as an alternative to social networks such as Facebook, which the founders believed abused their users via "spying, data mining, algorithm manipulation, and no revenue sharing". Other cofounders were Mark Harding, Ian Crossland, and Jack Ottman. Minds launched to the public in June 2015.
A Facebook page affiliated with the hacktivist group Anonymous encouraged its followers to support Minds in 2015, and called for developers to contribute to the service's open source codebase.
In 2018, over 150,000 Vietnamese users joined Minds after fearing that Facebook would comply with a new law requiring them to remove political dissent and release user data to the Vietnamese government. Beginning in May 2020, over 250,000 Thai users joined Minds after growing concerns about privacy on Twitter, which had been widely used for political activism. This led Minds to add Thai language support to its mobile apps, and upgrade its servers to handle the influx of traffic.
Minds raised $350,000 in 2013. The service later raised $1 million via a Regulation CF equity crowdfunding campaign. In October 2018, Minds raised $6 million in Series A funding from Medici Ventures, an Overstock.com subsidiary. Patrick M. Byrne, founder and CEO of Overstock.com, joined Minds’ board of directors.
Minds is a website as well as a desktop and mobile app. The platform awards ERC20 cryptocurrency tokens to its users based on their engagement with the site, and users spend tokens to promote their content or to crowdfund other users through monthly subscriptions. The tokens can also be bought and redeemed for standard currency. Minds offers a monthly premium subscription that gives users access to exclusive content, the ability to become verified, and the ability to remove boosted posts from their feed.
Privacy and security
Minds has been described as more private than its competitors. All messages sent between users are end-to-end encrypted, meaning even those who work for the company can't read their contents. Minds is also open source, so its codebase can be freely audited for vulnerabilities or other privacy concerns. Users can optionally register anonymously.
In 2015 an application security consultant posted to the Full Disclosure mailing list to say that the Minds client was accepting encryption keys without any identity verification, and that Minds was using its own weak cryptography protocol. Earlier the same week, a security company had released a full disclosure report claiming they had found that it was possible for them to delete any message, edit any user's profile, and upload arbitrary files to Minds. Mark Harding, Minds' CTO, denied the claims made on the mailing list. A security researcher at Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute agreed that the encryption used by Minds was weak, saying that although it wasn't necessarily exploitable, "I am not optimistic that they got it right." Bill Ottman, Minds' CEO, acknowledged the issues reported in the security company's full disclosure and said that the company had addressed them.
Minds told Business Insider it had experienced 60 million visits in 2015. In 2018, Wired said that Minds had 1 million users in total, 110,000 of whom were active in a given month. In May 2020, Minds reported having more than 2.5 million registered users and 300,000 monthly active users.
Content and moderation
In a 2018 interview with TechCrunch, founder and CEO Bill Ottman said that Mind's mission was "Internet freedom with privacy, transparency, free speech within the law and user control." Minds has been described as less rigorous about removing objectionable content than more mainstream social networks. Minds' terms of service disallows doxing, inciting violence, posting terroristic content, and harassing other users directly. A 2018 Wired article noted that hate speech was not disallowed, and reported that "The vast majority of content on Minds is innocuous, but posts do appear there that would constitute hate speech on other platforms." Ottman has said that he opposes removing hate speech and other objectionable content because he believes it can draw more attention to it, and that he opposes deplatforming extremists because he believes it only serves to push people towards more "other darker corners of the internet." Following a February 2018 appearance by Ottman on the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, Media Matters for America described Minds as "full of bigotry" and described the site's content as racist, antisemitic, and misogynist. Also in 2018, a writer for Engadget wrote about his concerns with the site's commitment to protecting free speech: "It's not until you survey the most popular channels on the platform that you start wondering what sort of free speech and debate Minds is interested in protecting. The site's stars are largely the intellectual bantamweights of the far-right movement, and the debate seems very one-sided. If you're wondering where people with Pepe the Frog avatars have migrated to, it's here. In fact, the general tenor of Minds is a combination of race hate, gun porn, "pro-white erotica" and lots and lots of weed." Vice criticized Minds in 2019 as a "haven" for neo-Nazis and far-right groups and individuals. In response to the 2019 allegations, the site banned several neo-Nazi or other hate group accounts.
In 2018, Minds had a small team that was responsible for policing content on the site, and was not using artificial intelligence to try to detect content that violated the site's terms of service. In May 2019, Wired wrote that Minds' moderation team was "about five" people, and that the company was in the process of forming a "jury system" that would remove content based on votes from its users.
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