Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 | By James Crowley – Newsweek |
(Hawk Note: This is a BOLO for new social media app increase in use.)
Social media platform MeWe has seen a massive increase in membership over the last few weeks as many people have vowed to leave “big tech” services like Facebook and Twitter.
In an email to Newsweek, a representative for MeWe said that the app gained 2.5 million new members in the week leading up to January 20. The rep added that MeWe’s current membership stands at 16 million, which is double the app’s membership in June 2020, when the company celebrated reaching 8 million members.
MeWe Marketing Director David Westreich summed up the app’s appeal, as he sees it, in his email. “People all over the world are leaving Facebook and Twitter in droves because they are fed up with the relentless privacy violations, surveillance capitalism, political bias, targeting, and newsfeed manipulation by these companies. MeWe solves these problems,” he wrote. “MeWe is the new mainstream social network with all the features people love and no ads, no targeting, no newsfeed manipulation, and no BS.”
In the wake of the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, various tech services took action against platforms like Parler and users deemed dangerous on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Parler was removed from the App Store, and various accounts, including former President Donald Trump, were suspended from sites like Twitter. This led to an exodus by users to platforms like Gab and MeWe.
Some of MeWe’s competitors, including Gab and Parler, are not currently available on distribution platforms like the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. Parler had been removed from the App Store in the days following rioters storming the U.S. Capitol for not moderating potentially harmful content. It was removed from Google Play for similar reasons.
Gab was removed from Google Play in 2017 for violating rules about hate speech, and Apple rejected it from the App Store that same year. On its website, Gab states: “Gab is banned from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store for refusing to censor speech for Google and Apple, but you can still install our Android app on your phone.” It then gives instructions on how to add Gab for both Android and iOS devices.
Unlike these rivals, MeWe’s app is readily available in app stores and ranked as one of the top free apps on Google Play.
MeWe insists it isn’t an “anything goes” platform, noting that “haters, lawbreakers, violence inciters etc. are not welcome,” and that a Trust and Safety team would enforce terms of service. Another tweet said that MeWe was alerting authorities to any illegal activity discussed on its platform.
Westreich sent a similar response to Newsweek when asked why the app hasn’t been banned like some of its competitors, and said that the company communicates with major tech organizations like Google and Apple for positive results. “MeWe has a strong Terms of Service and an outstanding Trust and Safety Team that works hard…to proactively investigate and remove all TOS-violators,” he wrote. “MeWe is unlike ‘anything goes’ sites and apps. MeWe’s relationships with Apple, Google, and AWS are good, and we have been in touch to ensure that MeWe meets their moderation guidelines.”
Gab accused MeWe of being “Big Tech lite,” sharing an article by a website called Reclaim the Net that raised questions about MeWe’s place as a “free speech platform.” In a tweet with a screenshot of MeWe’s “anything goes” tweet, Gab defied MeWe and said that it had “No threats. No illegal activity. No Porn,” and accused its competitor of “cav[ing] to Apple and Google in order to stay on the app stores.”
Westreich detailed different methods that MeWe employs to monitor users, including allowing users to block and report people, a search that doesn’t allow members to search for anything illegal or terms of service violation, and a three-strike policy called “MeWe Jail,” where people are unable to access their account for a certain period of time with their first two strikes and then banned on their third. There are still some exceptions. “Egregious violators are removed from MeWe outright,” the description of MeWe Jail states.
The company can also take further action on more alarming content. “Illegal activity can also be reported to law enforcement at MeWe’s discretion, and law enforcement can follow procedures in our terms to request information from us,” Westreich wrote.
Three services that the company had partnered with were listed “to stop known bad actors at the door and find them if they’ve gotten inside.” He also said that MeWe is stepping up to make sure that it can keep on top of the new users. “Due to recent rapid membership growth, the company is currently expanding its Trust and Safety Team and adding new tools to help moderators find and remove TOS-violators,” he wrote.
Newsweek attempted to reach out to Gab via its support email, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Read the full story here.