Let’s try MeWe
With the demise of G+ users were looking for other options. Most of them appeared to dislike Facebook otherwise they would have been on that platform a long time ago. It surprised that MeWe, a new social network was mentioned a lot on G+. I got curious and I visited the website where I was welcomed the following text “no ads”, “no spyware” and “no BS”. So now I was really interested and I decided to give it a shot and signed up. I deleted my account a week later. Is MeWe worse than Facebook?
Deleting the account had nothing to do the dull interface or the constant email messages I was getting from MeWe. I just realized that MeWe is very bad idea. To begin with it’s a proprietary closed network which will be disastrous for any community trying to share information with a wide audience. Anything you post there is hidden from the web. Let me give you an example: in Google search try: site:facebook.com “ubuntu 18.10” . You’ll see lots of results. Same for Fosstodon (a Mastodon instance). Now try this at MeWe: site:mewe.com “ubuntu 18.10”. Nothing or at least no relevant hits! Imagine the whole community invisible for Google.
Privacy and free speech
Now you might say that’s a good thing it provides the users privacy by not sharing anything with the web. But if you want privacy you also want control over what you share with the world and what you don’t want to share. Well MeWe doesn’t offer that. In a way this takes the user back to the old Compuserve days, an isolated gated community without any connection with the web.
But there are more problems with MeWe. Due to their free speech policy it attracts a lot of nasty people that got kicked out off Facebook. So don’t be surprised to meet a lot of trolls and extremists on MeWe, the kind of people not interested in a nice conversation.
Coordinated G+ strategy
Also I’m convinced that they have a coordinated campaign spamming G+ communities with posts to motivate people to move to MeWe. In the open source software community of G+ people that never posted a single thing suddenly started heavily promoting MeWe. I also noticed this behaviour on other G+ communities. I looked into one of the promoters and followed him to MeWe where he was discussing a strategy to attract as many G+ users as possible. For me a clear indication for a coordinated campaign. This is not forbidden of course and some might even call it good marketing but it somehow disgusted me.
One more problem with MeWe is that it is a centralized network. If the owners of MeWe close the network tomorrow you’ll be looking for a new network all over again just like G+. I guess I finally learned my lesson after G+ and I don’t want to be part of a private owned central network again.
What’s more MeWe is a for-profit company backed by investors that want a handsome return on investment. If the current business model doesn’t deliver they will demand changes in the network and these changes will not be in the interest of the users. I already read that MeWe is tracking. More recently I read that MeWe sends emails to people from the users contact list in their smartphone. These two examples demonstrate that, contrary to their advertising, MeWe doesn’t respect your privacy.
As you can tell I’m far from positive about MeWe. Yes it doesn’t have ads (yet?) but it’s just another Facebook wannabee with trolls and extremists in a gated community. Also with Facebook at least the information is searchable from outside the social network while MeWe doesn’t offer that. (it’s rumoured for months that this will change but up until 6 March 2019 this wasn’t the case). Also more recently MeWe appears not to take the privacy of their users very seriously. These are the reasons and I therefore conclude that MeWe could turn out to be a worse experience than FaceBook.
So what’s the alternative. I’ll be writing about that in a next blog post.
EDIT: last updated: 6 March 2019.
EDIT 24 Januari 2019. I hate to say told you so but an article appeared in The Times that’s not favourable for MeWe. A citation: ‘The social network that Sir Tim Berners-Lee hoped would be free from abuse has been found to contain gun sales, drugs and antisemitism.’