Return to Better Social Media?

MeWe

MeWe is the other platform that ended up hosting a large number of Google+ refugees. It has some very good features, and also some differences with alternatives like Diaspora. MeWe is not open-source or distributed, but does have a strong privacy focus. It’s Privacy Bill of Rights states:

  • You own your personal information & content. It is explicitly not ours.
  • You will never receive a targeted advertisement or 3rd party content based on what you do or say online. We think that’s creepy.
  • You see every post in timeline order from your friends, family & groups. We do not manipulate, filter, or change the order of your content or what you see.
  • Permissions & privacy are your rights. You control them.
  • You control who can access your content.
  • You control what, if anything, others can see in member searches.
  • Your privacy means we do not share your personal information with anyone.
  • Your emojis are for you and your friends. We do not monitor or mine your data.
  • Your face is your business. We do not use facial recognition technology.
  • You have the right to delete your account and take your content with you at any time.

This is good enough to make it worth a look. And they also prominently display the claim on their home page that they have No Ads, No Spyware, and No BS.

On the other hand, they do not hide that this is a company doing this rather than a community project like Diaspora. So how do they make money? They say they do it by offering extras you pay for and by offering a “pro” version for businesses that is not free of charge. It costs $75 per month per employee, but is free for non-profits and educational institutions. The MeWePro application offers additional collaboration tools and might be worth a look for some companies.

As for individuals, you get 8GB of storage free with your account, but 50GB is $4.99 per month. If you are using MeWe to share photos that will eat up 8GB at some point depending on how many photos you want to upload and share. They also offer Secret Chat, which they describe as something like What’sApp without tracking, and that costs $.99 per month, and they also offer unlimited voice and video calling for $1.99 per month.. Then there are Custom Emojis at $.99 per packet, and they offer Pages for $2.99 per month, which would probably appeal mostly to organizations or more prominent/famous people. At least that is what I have found so far. You can find many of these at the MeWe store. You may not be thrilled at the way they sell you this stuff, but there are only so many ways to support a social media service. If a company is going to provide such a service, they have to get a revenue stream. Facebook does it by selling your data, MeWe does it by selling “extras”. Personally, I am OK with that.

The MeWe Experience

MeWe resembles Facebook in a lot of ways. It is a slicker interface than Diaspora, but for a profit-making company that should not be a surprise. On the left is a column where you can browse Groups to join, and under that is a list of your friends, called My Contacts, and you can start a chat with any of them just like you do on Facebook. The chat window then pops open on the lower right, just as it does with Facebook. Then in the central column (just like Facebook) is your stream. Everything you post, and anything that has been shared with you, appears here. And MeWe promises it will show you everything in strict chronological order, which is a big difference from Facebook, as is the fact that no ads or promoted posts appear. And there is no “boosting”. If you have been as annoyed as I have been with what Facebook does you will like this way of handling your stream. I would advise using hashtags on your posts to make them easier to manage and to attract the audience that is interested in that particular topic. When you make a new post, the default is make it visible to your contacts, but there is a dropdown to change that to Public. Since the wayI use social media is to make most things Public, I kept looking for a setting somewhere to make Public the default, but never found it. So I would manually change each post, which was annoying, until one day I was doing this and got a pop up message asking if I wanted to make Public the default. I said yes and it has worked fine ever since. I would have thought there might be something in the Settings menu for this, but if there is, I missed it.

Photo sharing is not too difficult. You start by making a post, and click the photo button to add a photo from your hard drive. When you do this, it will give you an opportunity to add this photo to an album which you name, and then add more photos to the post and to the album. This all works fairly well, but as I said before you only get 8GB of storage in a free account, so I would say this is good for sharing photos, but not for mass storage. Remember that an extra 50GB is $4.99 per month, which may not be huge, but ends up being more than many of the alternatives. You can also access your photos or work with them by going to the Upper Right where your picture will show up if you used a picture on your profile, click on that, and select My Cloud.  You can also use this for file storage, but again, watch your storage use. Fortunately, on the left of this screen you easily see how much storage you have used, and how much you have in total.

On the right is window where you can post what your listening to, eating, watching, etc. Under that is a window where you will be notified if there are unread posts from a group you have joined. And under that is the Photostream, which will show your photos and also photos that have been shared with you.

Settings

Right under the My Cloud in that drop-down is Settings. Here is where you can go to make your privacy settings, such as whether others can download the photos you post (I set mine to not allow this). There are settings you can make for notifications for how your feed is presented (I always go for newest on top), and for Group Preferences.

Many people came to MeWe because Google+ was shutting down, and MeWe responded to this by making it easy to upload your Google+ content to MeWe. The last option in the Settings menu would let you upload your Google+ data if you had the foresight to download it all before Google+ shut down. Personally, I regard most Social Media posts as ephemera and did not do this, but I appreciate that MeWe made this easy for those who value this.

MeWe Community

MeWe bases everything on My Contacts, and I have not yet seen any posts from anyone who is not already a one of my contacts. This is very good for some purposes. For instance, if you wanted to set up a family group or affinity group where only members would ever see the posts, this would be excellent. If you want to see more posts from people you might share an interest with you need to join a Group. There are groups for things like Music, Travel, Foodies, and so on. Go to the top menu bar. Click on Groups, and browse the Open Groups (i.e. Groups which are open to anyone to join; adult content is a different matter.), and add one that appeals to you. Some groups you can just join with a click, others ask you to apply. My entirely unscientific survey of the politics/activism groups showed a lean to the right, but there were also things like Green Party. For Organizations you might want to follow, or more prominent people, try Pages.

Getting started

Just go to the MeWe Home Page and enter the requested information to get your account started. I will note here that they ask for either an e-mail address or a mobile telephone number, which may mean that they are using this for Two-Factor Authentication. I saw a tweet online that said they are working on offering this, but that it was not done as of that tweet (Late in 2018).

I hope this helps you to decide if MeWe is for you. It has some attractive features, but also some questionable ones.