It's been great watching DuckDuckGo rise as a major Google competitor. I've been thrilled to see Firefox taking a more aggressive approach to protecting people as a way to combat the invasiveness of Chrome. Now we might finally have a solution to the Facebook problem. "Which problem", you might ask?
If you didn't already know, Facebook has a long and sordid history of taking and misusing your data, profiling you, selling those profiles, losing and mishandling the data as well. They're essentially a masquerading as social service. This means harvesting every piece of information they can find about you so they can package and sell it to others. It's nasty business, but everyone's doing it… everyone except a few who are building a new paradigm that proves you can make a business work without abusing customers.
Data-brokering is nasty business. They learn about your habits, your private business, your medical information - all of it packaged and sold with nary a thought to whether that will be used for ID Theft, skeezy marketing, law enforcement and so on.
That's what I hope to see in MeWe. I did some research since I'd never heard of the before today and they've actually been around a while. They used some business-focused "gofundme" services (Angel.co and wefunder) to get capital and have built up MeWe.com from that. There are various reviews of the site around including Forbes.com who claims they already have 8 million members (though that's rapidly growing).
If that's the case, they hardly need my review on top, but I still reached out to the CEO (his email is listed online… something he'll want to change if the site is growing this rapidly) to point out some room for improvement. For example:
It's not actually clear in the policy what happens if they change their mind later. I read on another post (their about page or one of the reviews perhaps) that they would notify you of changes and you could opt out… not very reassuring. Better would be to make it clear that minor changes to the policy that are still in-line with the philosophy would result in notices, but major changes would not affect you until you logged into your account again and manually accepted the change. This is a bold site with a bold plan; let's see bold assurances as well!
They're actually doing pretty well already in having a conversational tone, keeping it short, and avoiding legalese, but I think it can be even better. For example, the font is pretty small and they're not making great use of whitespace. Some pics might be good to break up the wall of text. Some of the detail is a little over-kill (maybe summarize and then link/expand for people who care).
There are precious few companies trying to take on the giants and it would make sense for them to join forces; even if only in cross endorsement. Obviously they should first review their business model, security plan, and a deeper look at their tech strategy, but then, if they're convinced, the endorsement of someone I already researched and trust would go a lot further than online posts.
It's a bit lengthy so let me summarize: they make money by charging businesses for a PRO version, by selling extra emotes (if you care), and other add-ons that are optional.
Signing up was easy and, though I will never let a website scan my contacts from other services, at least there's SOME assurance this site wouldn't abuse that function. The home page is clean, easy to understand and features some posts from the CEO about important privacy issues (like the growing concerns over how Amazon uses Alexa). Nice…
The jury's still out for me, but at least I can feel comfortable using MeWe in my regular browser instead of having to isolate Facebook in a private window to keep it from stalking me on the web. That alone puts MeWe on top for me.