MeWe, a social media platform founded in 2016, is beginning to gain steam amid Big Tech malfeasance. It prides itself as a competitor to Facebook. Mashable noted last year “it wants to be the alternative” to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s platform.
The platform operates on chats, groups, pages, and an event listing portion. Groups seem to be the driving force behind MeWe, as people can join conversations in niches — like Facebook pages — and be drawn into a compatible community. MeWe gained prominence in 2020 when Hong Kongers began to use it to fight Facebook’s censoriousness.
After writing a piece on alternatives to Big Tech, MeWe marketing director David Westreich contacted me. One source I had interviewed for that piece, journalist Christian Toto, described how he thought MeWe was an overly political platform that needs to have more social elements to allow for flourishment.
Westreich wrote in an email, “MeWe has no political bias and has members of all political persuasions and walks of life around the world. There are over 400,000 open groups on MeWe and only a fraction of them are related to politics. Popular group categories on MeWe include sports, music, video games, tech, movies, photography, travel, foodies, animal lovers, politics left and right, and much more.”
“Since MeWe has no newsfeed manipulation or boosted/amplified content, you only see posts from the friends, groups, and pages you choose to connect with,” he added. “You control your newsfeed and what kind of content you want to see.”
I spoke to the platform’s Founder — Mark Weinstein — to get a better understanding of the platform. My inclination was that, sure, MeWe might not be intentionally political — but like other new platforms it largely can be, and has less cultural balance content-wise.
My perception of MeWe was changed a bit after talking to Weinstein and using the platform more, although I still think it needs to centralize culture in order to stay relevant.
If Americans seek to move away from Big Tech, it’s time to discern how our social media usage can combat the oligarchs. Below is the transcript of our interview.
On How MeWe Differs From Other New Platforms
Weinstein: Well, it’s interesting. Parler isn’t really much of anything anymore. I don’t know if you’re on it or can get on it. We’re not a free speech platform like Parler. It is very, very clear that MeWe is not anything goes. And this is very important.
Free speech and anything goes are actually two different things. And the problem with anything goes, as we saw with Parler, is they basically got delisted. They got kicked out of Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Gab is completely not mainstream, and therefore you limit your reach. You limit your marketplace. So, MeWe has what I call a privacy Bill of Rights. So, your data, everything about it is protected. And also, we have what we call civil discourse. So, in other words, we have strict rules. We don’t have double standards and we don’t censor people because their opinions are different than what a government wants or what an executive might want.
Just be civil with one another, because the principle of our democracy is disagreement, and I don’t know what’s going on in this country.
On Facebook Competition
Social media was invented so that we can stay in touch with each other. MeWe is a Facebook competitor — I want to be clear about that. That’s who we’re going for, that’s who we stand against. That’s who we compete against.
We’re fully featured and we’ve got countless features: a great custom camera, you can create custom memes and Gifs. We’ve got pages, we’ve got groups, we’ve got stories, we’ve got journals. We’ve got voice messaging across the platform. That’s what Facebook is.
We can scale. We can scale to hundreds of millions of members. We’re already serving 20 million members. We’re built to scale, we’ve been engineering for years. We have the inventor of the worldwide web as one of our advisors, Tim Berners-Lee.
On Reaching Non-Conservatives
We’ve got a half-million groups on MeWe, 99 percent are lifestyle. You know, it’s like movies, sports, entertainment. These are curated over years. We’ve been averaging 173 percent annual growth for nearly four years now. So, our revenue model works.
Listen, it is hard. People try and pigeonhole you as conservative. People don’t know how to pigeonhole Facebook except as dishonest. Everybody, right or left, sees Facebook that way. Facebook bans progressives and conservatives. They seem to have a very strange algorithm for deciding, call it executive appetite, for who to censor.
It’s really comical. Facebook censors conversations about MeWe. Like what are they afraid of. But they’re a dirty player.
On Gab And Content Moderation
The problem is [Gab] is not moderating. An open, free-speech platform of no moderation doesn’t function. It’s actually dysfunctional for a free people. We’re all Americans. So, the foundation is, let’s keep it civil.
If you create something like Gab where you are not monitoring the bots and the trolls, and all the bad actors, then you can’t interact with it. So, I think they have a problem. And I think they know it. And I don’t think they know how to deal with it. If Gab starts moderating, their whole reason for existing goes out the window.
We allow conversations about any topic you want. Just don’t incite violence and don’t incite hate. That’s straightforward. And if you’re promoting hate, and you’re doxing, and you’re inciting violence and riots on your platform, that’s not what we can afford. We’ve got to be civil. Civil discourse.
On Future Plans
We’re always engineering. We just rolled out our first-time user experience. We’re going to create a system for our page owners to have some sort of premium content for their followers. We’re going to keep expanding the dimensions and accessibility of our platform, and create features, enhance user experience.
We’re the first social network in history that has revenue without institutional financing. A venture capital group doesn’t control us. We’re breaking all the rules. We have nearly 20 million members with no marketing. David’s our only guy on marketing.
We were number one in Hong Kong for three months in a row. Why? The Chinese government can’t ask us to censor somebody. We’re the real deal.