If you were a hen, would you hire a fox to guard your home? Unless you have literally never read or heard a fairy tale in your life, you most certainly would not.
And yet we continue to entrust our private data, our conversations, and our civil discourse to the companies that have the most to gain in granting access to the most invasive advertisers, in creating connections where none should exist, and in getting us riled up enough to go off on a rage-fueled rant.
The news this week that WhatsApp rather unceremoniously allowed the personal data of 500 million of its users to be stolen and sold on the Dark Web should come as no particular surprise. Despite the – truly, rather tortured – ad campaign Meta have been running assuring us that WhatsApp conversations are ‘end-to-end encrypted’ to protect us, the reality is that maintaining careful control over personally identifiable information (PII) is, for Meta, a hobby rather than a fundamental focus. The company does not derive revenue from data protection, but rather from exposing its users’ preferences programmatically so that advertisers can target their messaging. When a company’s primary source of income is exposing its users’ secrets, it should come as no surprise that its efforts to prevent said secrets’ exposure is shoddy.
Meanwhile, what to say of Twitter? Since the moment Elon Musk closed his quixotic deal, and told us to “let that sink in”, literally nobody has known what to make of the ‘new’ Twitter. The disastrous effort to sell off the blue check mark for $8 a month – itself not even enough of a toll to make the slightest dent in the debt acquired by the company in Musk’s acquisition shenanigans – resulted in what can only be called shockingly entertaining comic relief. That one of the top personas faked by those willing to shell out $8 for a digital fig lead was Musk himself just makes the whole thing more delicious. And yet – if we can’t trust the company whose owner literally wants it to be the ‘town square’ to, at a bare minimum, not actively authenticate fakes and conmen, then what, exactly, does the platform offer?
And if we have to suffer many more manufactured scandals, designed as pure click bait, and with a goal of making us all so angry we spend extra time flipping through posts and ads and more and more ads….well, surely we’re becoming wise to this? No? Perhaps not. Today’s trending hashtags and handles are way less likely to become part of the public discourse organically than at any time in history – the algorithm must be fed, and artificial intelligence understands that the successes of tomorrow can be designed only by recreating the successes of yesterday and today.
The growth of alternative platforms in the wake of the behemoths’ has been nothing short of meteoric, albeit sometimes overstated, and often in danger of falling prey to the same temptations. BeReal is glorious – but how will it become a money-spinner if not through advertising? Mastodon provides awesome technology to connect likeminded thinkers, but its moderation philosophy threatens to silence intelligent discourse as a blunt-force counteraction to the sorts of ugliness that is not just tolerated but celebrated on platforms like Truth Social and Parler.
The time to placate the foxes by handing them the keys to the henhouse has passed. Now it’s time to try the other approach: arm the hens and paste a photo of the fox above the entrance with a clear “Do Not Admit” warning scrawled across it. It’s time to build a place where it’s not just messages that are fully and impenetrably encrypted, but also users’ personal details. Where individuals can have their say, but cannot impersonate others with impunity, nor register thousands of fake accounts to stir up trouble. And where users choose who to follow and engage with, building real connections – and having the clear option to leave far behind those who go beyond what we’re willing to entertain…without having them pop up time after time after time in our ‘suggested connections’ feed so that the algorithm can get a rise out of us.
QP’s fully updated app supports experts, influencers, and creators who attract the interest of enthusiastic followers and fans, who are willing to provide financial support in return for a deeper connection. Unlike the traditional social media, there are no ads, and as a result, there is no algorithm seeking to maximize page views. Users who choose to discontinue a subscription simply eliminate their past channels from their feed; and creators who tire of haters and trolls can decline their support and remove them from their circle. Everyone can have multiple profiles, to organize messages and connections, but nobody gets to have two accounts – every account must be paired with a functioning phone number.
Social networking has hit an inflection point, and QP represents the future. Come join the revolution – where social media is social again.