Thanks no anx, designing a brave new social media

December 2021

Social media has problems. The Superhood team had a chance to design a new kind of social media. A media which could avoid or manage the bad things of social media, yet implement and enable the good ones. Here are some of the principal design decisions guiding Superhood.

No gatekeepers, no followers

Legacy social media is creating information bubbles caused by closed groups and algorithms. Social networks are feeding content liked by people you follow, friend, or connect with, or which the system thinks you would react to. To get your voice heard in these platforms you have to collect followers, get permissions to join groups, or find a way to please the algorithms. Followers, groups, and algorithms have become the gatekeepers of information.

Superhood is built for communities around cities, places, and neighborhoods. We strongly believe access to local information should be inclusive to all. In Superhood you don’t have to follow people or join groups to get information, or collect followers to get your voice heard. Neither does Superhood have excessive algorithms controlling what you see. In Superhood you can freely select which places and neighborhoods you want to follow and what type of information you’d like to receive. You are in control of your feed.

Privacy first, rethinking the business model

The traditional social media business model is based on exploiting users’ personal data. The platforms are excessively tracking users’ activities within and outside the platform. The more data a platform has the better it can profile users for the advertisers. The pure advertising business model has created a conflict of interest. The legacy platforms have an inherent interest to hoard personal data and breaching users’ privacy.

Superhood is a privacy-aware platform. Our business model is NOT based on profiling users for advertisers. This means you don’t have to create a user profile to access information, or prove your address and identity to be part of the local communities. Superhood is neither tracking you, and we have no need or interest to collect your personal data. The Superhood business model is a combination of premium paid features and advertising. The ads in Superhood are not targeted based on users’ personal information.

Value for the complete local ecosystem

Social media services with closed neighborhood groups are built primarily as discussion groups or bulletin boards for people. Typically these groups have an admin or a group of admins who decide who can join and what can be shared or discussed in the group. Combining this with the financial motivation to limit organizations and businesses getting visibility, the legacy social networks are not optimal for local communities.

Residents, visitors, city organizations, local authorities, and businesses are all part of the complex local ecosystems. Each actor in the ecosystem has different needs and objectives and requires different tools. Superhood’s mission is to add value to the whole ecosystem without sacrificing or exploiting one or some parts of the system for the benefit of others. Superhood is a balanced media serving the complete local ecosystem.

Speech is free, but the community is in charge

Rules on who can post and what can be posted set by neighborhood group admins are problematic. Admin moderated social media services are creating inner circles and increasing inequality in the communities. Real name policies are also personifying discussions, polarising neighborhoods when difficult issues arise.

In Superhood speech is free and users can also post discreetly. The power of content moderation is within the whole community. You can be part of the discussion by simply confirming posts as true or flagging them as inappropriate. You also have the option to remove heckling users from your feed.

Avoid anxiety, don’t exploit emotions

The need to collect followers, get more likes and please the algorithms to get views and gain popularity are creating anxiety among the users of social networks. The systems are built and optimized to keep users engaged and sucked in the services, while the ever-increasing competition for clicks and views is pushing content creators to post more daring and controversial content. The same phenomenon, exacerbated by the information bubbles, is turning news into clickbait and even fake news.

In Superhood users’ motivation to post content is primarily not driven by self-promotion. Superhood is about informing or entertaining people with local information, news, and happenings, or initiating actions and discussions on local matters. In addition, with subtle design decisions, Superhood aims to minimize anxiety and neighborhood drama.

The emphasis in Superhood is 

  • not in who is posting the information but in the information itself, 
  • not in who is liking your post but in indicating that your post is appreciated, and 
  • not in who is popular but in who provides value for the local community.

Thanks no anx! Superhood believes in building a sustainable social media, one which does not consume us human beings but rather helps our communities to prosper.

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