Social media startup company ‘Unthink’, already referred to as the ‘Anti-Facebook’, has launched the beta version of its website. Unthink positions itself as a more ‘open’ and more ‘honest’ form of social networking. The users supposedly are ‘the owners of their data’, and not the ‘product’ being sold to advertisers. At first sight, the videos, pictures and catchy one-liners of Unthink are appealing to anyone who is critical about the ways in which social media monopolies operate. A closer look, however, quickly turns the appealing into appalling, as soon one realizes it is a commercial corporation that’s literally trying to sell you freedom in a social networking infrastructure that centralizes branding.
Unthink to Facebook and Google – It’s F U time
Instead of exploitation of immaterial labour through user generated content and targeted advertising, an Unthink user has to become an endorser of the brand, advertising the brand to friends in order to use the service, or pay 2 dollar a year. This is an alternative for Facebook, but clearly not dealing with the exploitative nature of social media monopolies.
It’s actually worse. Powerful terms like ‘open’, ‘freedom’, ‘honest’, ‘control’, ‘ownership’, ‘privacy’ and ‘revolution’ are deceivingly used to appeal to everyone who is sick of Facebook and propose it’s a completely different social networking site. As someone remarked on the Unlike Us mailing list: ‘(..) where is the source code’? Nowhere. Well, I did a Google search for Unthink.com +open source and got many returns containing this dreadful sentence:
Those who had enough of FB have probably already discovered that true freedom, openness, ownership and privacy control comes with open-source alternatives like Diaspora, GNUSocial, Crabgrass and many others.
Unbelievable. Techcrunch writer Sarah Perez wrote “Unthink is Diaspora done right”, which is totally untrue. Diaspora is all about building a people centric social web as opposed to a corporate centric social web. They both emphasize the ability to control privacy, but which alternative doesn’t? Actually Diaspora never was about destroying or replacing Facebook, but Unthink seems to be..and it does so with branding (!?!??!?!). This is a pretty bad comparison to make.
‘Honestly’. The only good thing that can come out of this is generating more attention for/and discussion about what openness, freedom and control really means for social media users and how decentralized social media alternatives are able to live up to those promises.
We better not Unthink. Think again!
Unthink Beta Launch Review