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In brief: Social networks don't have the best reputation when it comes to being friendly, non-toxic, altruistic platforms. But technologist and serial entrepreneur Robert Weiss is launching a competitor that he says ticks all those boxes. He also warned that Roar Social is prepared to kick off hundreds or even thousands of "sh*tty" users.
Roar Social reimagines social media as a force for good, states the press release, which isn't something usually associated with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The platform's philanthropic nature works by utilizing the same type of viral content – from creators and users - and engagement found on rival social media sites. It features what Weiss calls "gamified giving." Instead of having a Like or Heart button, there will be a 'Give' option under a post. This allows users to make micro-donations as small as one cent that will go to pre-selected good causes such as homelessness and climate change.
"Because of the hot mess that is legacy social media, I believe there's a real opportunity for disruption," Weiss said. "The idea is marrying engagement with social impact."
"Future generations will be amazed that social media was purely for profit, that it didn't incorporate social impact giving into its very core."
Roar Social has raised $10 million in seed funding, and its advisory board includes MTV creator John A. Lack and the ex-CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so there are some big names involved. It has also secured product and engineering talent from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and LinkedIn.
Every social media platform has a percentage of users who are there just to troll others and cause problems, but Weiss says he is prepared to kick off hundreds or thousands of people if necessary. "I don't want to have shitty users," he said, via Insider, "and by shitty users I mean people who are gonna be disruptive and who are gonna come on the platform and create havoc. So I want the right users and to get the right users, you need to be a little patient."
Weiss believes it is likely that other social media companies could try and copy this altruistic approach, but they won't succeed due to their existing problems.
"Nothing is stopping McDonald's from selling filet mignon," he said, "they could do it well, they could do it cheaply, but no one's really gonna go to McDonald's to buy the filet mignon. I'm betting that if you're between 16 and 36 and you want to use your creator superpowers for good, you are not gonna be doing that on legacy platforms."
Roar Social will have a challenging time competing with the likes of Facebook/Instagram owner Meta Platforms, which has a near three-quarters of a billion-dollar market cap, especially when Weiss isn't focusing on profit and already threatening to kick off thousands of users. However, the idea of a feel-good social network will likely appeal to a lot of people disillusioned with the toxicity of popular platforms.
Interested users can now sign up for VIP early access to the Beta release of Roar Social, which launches on Apple's App Store this summer.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that Rob Weiss was the producer of TV show Entourage. While the Roar Social creator did run his own TV production company and served as a high-level executive at cable networks FX, Fuse, Ovation, and VH1, it was a different Rob Weiss who produced the HBO series.