According to a report by Venture Beat, picked up on by Breitbart News, “Minds” is an alternative social media platform which has just secured $10M in funding, from tech freedom organization FUTO, to further develop its decentralized and encrypted app. Minds is not new; it was co-founded all the way back in 2011 by a group of individuals who felt that major social networks, like Facebook, were taking advantage of their users with “spying, data mining, algorithm manipulation, and no revenue sharing.” The site was initially made available to the public in 2015, with vocal support from infamous ‘hacktivist collective,’ Anonymous. Minds has seen its user-base grow to over 14 million since 2018, when it received its last major round of funding. Interestingly, the app saw a significant increase in users from Vietnam in 2018 and again in Thailand in 2020, when concerns about privacy on Twitter combined with increased political persecution by the governments in those countries to drive more users to Minds, a platform those users saw as a way to thwart government censorship laws. The new funding will be used to drive the platform’s further development of blockchain utilization to create a social media alternative that is decentralized, making it both private and free from government censorship, all while using completely open-source software.
CEO Bill Ottman says, “We have been fully focused on building an open-source encrypted, decentralized alternative to mainstream social networks. It’s always been shocking to me that none of them are open source… and it seems like there’s a pattern emerging with the lack of transparency and surveillance and abuse of users freedoms. So from the beginning, I always considered it inevitability that an open-source, decentralized social network was going to emerge, similar to how open source dominated operating systems with Linux.”
In addition to being extremely privacy-focused, Minds has kept content moderation to a minimum, openly opposing the removal of hate speech (whatever that means nowadays) and the deplatforming of “extremists.” In a 2019 statement to Vice, Minds executives expressed their belief that “free expression and transparency [is] the antidote to radicalization, violence, and extremism.” Minds has taken the position that civil discourse, as opposed to censorship, is the appropriate reaction to ideas that one finds offensive – a position that stands in stark contrast to Social Media goliaths such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ottman went on to tell Breitbart News:
“It’s promising that big tech is mutually despised by both the left and right, but for slightly different reasons… both sides object to the overreaching surveillance… but there’s serious debate about how to handle speech. A minority of free speech advocates on the left definitely exist, but much of the left is pushing for increased censorship to handle misinformation and controversial speech. Regardless of whether or not this sentiment comes from ‘a good place’, the empirical evidence and numerous peer-reviewed studies show that censorship often causes an increase in violence and polarization, pushing extreme ideas into darker corners of the internet where they can’t be combated.”
The platform has recently added a crytocurrency-based rewards and payment system for users to monetize their content as well as an end-to-end worldwide messaging function with secure video conferencing and file sharing, presumably to compete with popular encrypted messaging services Signal and Telegram.
Minds was originally conceived of as a “privacy” app, but it appears that its value as a means of avoiding censorship may in fact be what ultimately propels it to the critical tipping point of mass-adoption. Given the current climate around censorship and Big Tech in the U.S. and other major western markets, that tipping point may be sooner rather than later.
Minds’ website can be accessed here, and their app is available on all major platforms, including Google Play and the Apple’s App Store.