Type of site
|News, social networking service|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Industry||Social networking service|
|Commercial||Yes (funded by members)|
WT.Social, also known as WikiTribune Social, is a microblogging and social networking service on which users contribute to "subwikis". It was founded in October 2019 by Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter. The service contains no advertisements, and runs on donations. On launch it gained 400,000 users by 3 December 2019. User growth was less rapid thereafter, the number of users being 446,775 on 16 May 2020.
Creation and launch
Jimmy Wales created WT.Social (originally formatted as "WT:Social") after becoming frustrated with Facebook and Twitter for what he called their "clickbait nonsense". The format is meant to combat fake news by providing evidence-based news with links and clear sources. Users are able to edit and flag misleading links. WT.Social allows users to share links to news-sites with other users in "subwikis". Unlike its predecessor (WikiTribune, which Wales co-founded with Orit Kopel), WT.Social was not crowdfunded. Wales was quoted as wanting to "keep a tight rein on the costs." In October 2019, Wales launched the site. When a new user signed up they would be placed on a waiting list with thousands of others. To skip the list and gain access to the site, users either had to make a donation or share a link with friends. By November 6, the site had 25,000 users. That number was claimed to be 200,000 by mid-November and 400,000 by December 3. However, this rapid growth was not sustained; the number of users reported as of 15 May 2020 was 446,775.
Quoted in the Stanford Social Innovation Review for Summer 2020, Wales said: "We're not doing a good job of actually exposing the best stuff on the platform. So that's kind of our next phase in evolution." This approach involved highlighting contributions by public figures.
As of launch, WT.Social runs on proprietary software, rather than on free software like Mastodon or any other interoperable software based on an open standard like the fediverse. However, as of November 7, 2019, Wales stated that he had just learnt about ActivityPub and was looking into it. Later, Wales stated that the code would be released under GPLv3 in the future.
- Bradshaw, Tim (November 13, 2019). "Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales launches Twitter and Facebook rival". Financial Times.
- "Wikipedia founder's Facebook rival passes 200,000 users". The Independent. November 19, 2019.
- "Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Launches Social Network to Compete With Facebook". CBS SF Bay Area. November 16, 2019.
- "Wikipedia co-founder wants to give you an alternative to Facebook and Twitter". Engadget. November 14, 2019.
- "WT.Social hit 400K members today!". WT.Community. December 3, 2019.
- "446,775 Members on WT.Social". WT.Community. May 16, 2020. Archived from the original on May 16, 2020.
- Bendix, Bendix (Summer 2020). "The People's Platform". Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
- "Twitter statement". November 21, 2019.
I have decided to freely license the code for https://wt.social
- "Twitter thread". November 7, 2019.
Sounds interesting. Reading! Not likely to do anything like this soon as we are underfunded and just getting going. But it sounds interesting! [...] Ok. I am always interested in decentralization as a principle. I don't know of anything I could actually use in this case though. [...] Also, to be clear, I'm not being dismissive. I'm reading up on ActivityPub to see if there's a way to support it natively. If real tools are being built that I can interoperate with, that's a clear win all around.