Do you want to change the world? Just use this app. These bold words are welcomed by the Supernova Social Network application, which is supposed to be an “ethical social medium”. How is this different from Facebook, Instagram, and others? You guessed it – marketing.
Supernova is a brand new social app that, like all of them, promises to be better than Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and the rest. What exactly is better at? Well, like Robin Hood taking the rich and giving the poor, he will share as much as 60% of his advertising income with selected charity organizations, including to combat climate change, human and animal rights, help the homeless and mental health issues. The new app’s partners even include Ocean Cleanup, a project designed to clean up a huge ocean patch of garbage and other debris that has littered Globe’s water tanks.
Supernova aims to be a fully ethical alternative. What does it mean?
The originator of the application is British Dominic O’Meara, a marketing guru, who decided that it is possible to combine the world of social media and advertising “for the greater good”. The basic premise of Supernova is the previously mentioned sharing of income with charities. Each user will be able to choose which organization he wants to spend his “likes” on, and thus the weight of likes will be completely different than in other social networking sites – we are to give “likes” not only to the content viewed, but also to the organization that will be supported thanks to this content . When we give away enough “likes” (what the app calls Karma point collecting), we will be able to award a “supernova” worth 10x more than a single heart.
On the practical side, Supernova is a cross between Instagram and Facebook. The interface is confusingly similar to the former, but the application also includes groups similar to the latter. Unfortunately, in Poland, we cannot find out about it yet, because the application for iOS or Android is not available in our region.
But Supernova’s “ethics” does not end with sharing money. O’Meara, in an interview with TechCrunch, assures that his social media is to be free from the polarizing, toxic content that floods the modern Internet. It is also not to be oversensitive in the other direction, such as Instagram, which can block a photo of a breastfeeding woman due to “violation of the website regulations”. How does Supernova want to achieve this? Using 100% human moderation. At the moment, the content of the website is moderated by a 24/7 trained group of young students and graduates of IT faculties, operating from the territory of Great Britain. As the site grows, machine learning is expected to help moderate moderation, but only to support the people moderating the site, not to replace them.
What’s in it for advertisers? After all, they are aware that more than half of the money they pay will not go to Supernova. O’Meara explains that Supernova is a response to “new social media”, in which advertisers are looking not for the number of clicks, but their quality, and users are conscious
In theory, Supernova sounds like a perfect marriage of these worlds. The founder also does not plan to take a hoe to the sun and announce his website with the second Instagram, but he safely assumes reaching even 1 percent. millennials, which would make 40 million users a day. This is the way to go.
And although I would like Supernova’s utopian vision of social media to come true, somehow I can’t believe this project.
Advertisers want to earn. Therefore, social media is not ethical.
The fundamental problem that Supernova does not solve is that in order to give away money, you first have to earn money. To earn a meaningful amount of money and give away 60% of the money. of them, you have to earn a lot of money, and this leads to the fact that … somehow you will have to get this money. In other words, Supernova will have to do everything in its power to direct the eyeballs of users to the advertisements displayed on the site and mobilize them as much as possible to “score Karma points”.
And here is the proverbial dog buried, because even in the interview with the CEO of Supernova, he does not explain how he is going to achieve it. And this is, after all, a fundamental problem that has brought social media to the extremely unethical state it is in today.
Instagram is harmful to young people, causes mental problems and, instead of engaging with interesting content, is increasingly bombarding users with a stream of ads. Why? Because it needs to generate as many clicks for advertisers as possible to generate as much money as possible for its shareholders. There is no place for ethics here except for compliance with the law and some elementary human dignity.
Facebook has promoted polarizing discussions over the years and allowed the activities of people and organizations that antagonize users. Why? Because thanks to this, he increased their involvement, made them dependent on the website and generated more money from advertisers for its shareholders.
YouTube is not exactly a social networking site, although it has some features of it in some places. The largest video site in the world is ruled and divided by an algorithm, and the lives of millions of creators depend on the vagaries of Google, who attract users and generate billions of dollars in ad impressions for the company. Why? Because YouTube’s goal is not to entertain us or change the world. YouTube’s goal, like any other big tech corporation, is to earn. And I can’t believe it would end otherwise with Supernova.
There are actually three scenarios:
- Supernova will last a few months, up to years and will cease to exist, like any “alternative to Instagram” that tried to disarm the current social-media system, because its maintenance for a handful of users will stop paying off,
- Supernova will grow and gain momentum but will fall into the trap of size and the need to maintain its growing infrastructure.
- Supernova will reach an estimated 40 million users, and its creators will be satisfied with it, advertisers will be satisfied and everyone will live happily ever after.
I do not believe in the latter scenario, so there are actually two scenarios, the first of which is the most probable. Because in the long run, this type of business has only two options: grow or die. If Supernova is to grow, it needs to attract users and get them to click on your ads. And although I would like it to be otherwise, the mere prospect of donating profit from clicks to charity is not enough to convince millions of people to abandon the solutions they know and use by their friends.