When I signed up to MeWe five years ago, when it was still in its beta testing phase, I never imagined it would become the most popular online hangout for conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and the alt-right.
MeWe was very quiet when I signed up. At the time, I needed to get away from Facebook’s toxicity. The platform became popular as anti-Facebook sentiment grew. But despite being known as “anti-Facebook”, it’s not that much different.
There are venomous posts on MeWe too, just like Facebook. People tend to shout into echo chambers and act like children with their fingers stuck in their ears wherever we go, it seems.
What is MeWe?
MeWe was founded by entrepreneur and privacy advocate Mark Weinstein back in 2012. It’s now available worldwide and owned by Weinstein’s California-based company, Sgrouples. Weinstein told Rolling Stone back in 2019:
“I’m one of the guys who invented social media. […] Social media wasn’t invented for us to be data to be bought and sold and for the governments around the world to be able to have access to know everything about us”.
Watch: The Rise of Surveillance Capitalism | Mark Weinstein
If you want to know what social media would like when all oversight has been removed, it’s probably MeWe (and Parler). That said, MeWe’s founders never referred to it as a social platform specifically created for conservatives.
The site has, however, been making headlines recently for its refusal to moderate misinformation, which has now turned it into an attractive option for those individuals who are disillusioned by mainstream social media.
MeWe and privacy
MeWe launched to the public in 2016. By 2020, it had nine million users. At the time publishing, that figure now stands at 15.5 million members. Of those, 2.5 million signed up during the past week.
The service has a privacy bill of rights outlining all its policies. As per the bill, all your content is under your control. That means MeWe won’t sell your data to advertisers, unlike Facebook.
You can also delete your account in its entirety whenever you choose, completely erasing your content and personal data from the service. Again, unlike Facebook. It’s easy to see why MeWe became so popular, so fast.
New members dispute US election
As reported by AFP, MeWe’s member figured soared as conservatives backing President Donald Trump’s claims of election malfeasance flocked to the social media platform, seeking freedom from “censorship”.
“While alternative social networks have seen ephemeral gains in the past, the post-election trend ‘has reached more mainstream conservatives’ who are frustrated with the large internet platforms”.
Fox Business TV host Maria Bartiromo in recent days announced she would be leaving Twitter, with a tweet saying, “I’ll be posting on Parler [because] as you know I won’t tolerate censorship.”
According to SensorTower, the MeWe app was downloaded more than 787 000 times from Apple and Google’s US app stores by 12 January 2021.