Minding Your Business: Where Minds.com Succeeds and Where it Fails
Minds.com is a social media site that is dedicated to free speech and security. Minds allows for any legal form of speech to exist on their website. Unlike other site who set up arbitrary rules that are enforced differently depending on the source of the statement, Minds simply views whether or not the post would be legal to say on a public street corner or town square.
This is a double-edged sword. Much like at the end of Fort street, where there is a constant soapbox preacher spewing fire and brimstone, you can occasionally find people on minds who loudly express their views in ways which you might not agree with. Thankfully, much like any other social media site, Minds has the capability to allow you to set up barriers to prevent seeing such community members, such as blocking them.
A major downside of Minds is that many people don’t know about it, so it isn’t well populated with “Normies,” or normal, run of the mill people. Because of this, Minds can feel stale and boring, with many of the same talking points being bounced back and forth as the people who usually find themselves signing up for a Minds account are typically users suspended from another site or else ones told to join by a YouTube personality advertising for Alt-Tech
Minds shares many of the same features that other major social media sites have, such as a discover page, a la Instagram, a following system similar to Twitter, and the unlimited posting size of Facebook. It also introduces other interesting features such as an encrypted messaging service. This allows for the user to feel secure that their one-to-one messages are read only by them and the recipients. This, unlike Facebook, who scrub their Messenger app and all their users text messages (if the user gives them access) for marketing data. However, in fairness, Facebook’s Messenger app does allow for unlimited text, emojis, stickers, videos, gifs, pictures, and attachments, which is not available at all through Minds messaging which is text only.
While sharing so many similarities might seem like a huge positive, the average person seems to feel as though they find very little on this site that they can’t find elsewhere, usually on the several other sites they already use. This, generally speaking, leaves them disinterested in learning the ins and outs of a new social platform.
That is far from the only problem with the site. Posts made on Minds function similarly to a broadcast. They are delivered directly to their subscribers, but are also published across the platform. While this is great for public figures, this is not necessarily the best way to build a daily user base. Twitter users a similar model; however, Twitter works to help users make connections to their friends and associates and their retweets make it very clear that one person is sharing another. Users can very clearly use the site to find small things they like and share them, making a small collage of their identity. Minds, in contrast, makes it feel like they have stolen a post or are advertising for someone else’s page. This makes people less likely to actually spread or share such information in this way, as they want to perceive their own individuality and that the content they share is theirs, even if it really isn’t.
Minds also, perhaps regrettably, gives no easy way to make semi-private posts, such as feeds that spread strictly to subscribers. There is technically a way to make a semi-private post, however, upon examining the service, I must say that I find it feels wrong and manipulative to use. Minds has its own crypto-currency and in order to make a semi-private post, the poster sets a price in the crypto-currency that must be paid in order to see the post. This feels disingenuous, and it also loses the point of making the post semi-private, as the only barrier to privacy is payment. This is also done on a per post basis and not as a subscription service, as you already “subscribe” to follow users.
These design choices lead me to the conclusion that the site seems to have been designed mainly with content creators in mind, and the belief that where the creators went, people would follow. While this may have worked to a certain extent, the site as a whole is a failure because of it, as invariably content creators go where their audience is. By designing the platform in this way, very little meaningful interaction happens between normal people who wish to express themselves in an environment they feel like they control, and thus results in them not staying there very long, if ever. This in turn means that content creators, especially those who have access to other, more popular sites, will only use Minds as a quick and easy dumping ground, likely added to a mass-posting program built to share across multiple platforms at once, while choosing instead to interact with their audience on more popular sites.
Furthermore, because the main influx of people who make accounts largely can be assumed do not feel in control of their environment and have probably been persecuted in the past for their beliefs, many of them take to posting anonymously. This makes it even harder for users to reach out with people and friends or acquaintances, and thus harder for people to make real connections on the site. This also can bring about the absolute worst side of an individual, as those who interact anonymously tend to wind up believing that there are no repercussion for their actions online.
If Minds wish to succeed in the social media market I would suggest that they must make several changes to their current platform. Among them; making a way to post semi-private messages (such as exclusively for subscribers), adding an option to set your feed to private which would restrict your posts from public broadcast and allow you to accept or reject subscribers, positively promote positive content on their discover feature, and work towards helping people connect with the people around them on their site. If they do not follow these objectives, I do not think the site has a positive future moving forward and will probably fail as a business.