Privacy activists are launching a tracking-free and advertising-free rival to Facebook, aiming to win over disgruntled users from the social media giant following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In a crowdfunded campaign, the new website, called Openbook, will be set up to change what social media networks are about, from “all about making as much money as possible” out of people “no matter the consequences”, to something that is “awesome”.
It says it wants to "connect people" and "provide funny cat videos" without endangering privacy.
The site, which will give 30 per cent of its revenues to charity, is backed by experts including Philip Zimmermann, who created PGP, the most widely used email encryption software, and Jaya Baloo, chief information security officer for Dutch telecoms company KPN Telecom.
The new network was founded by Joel Hernandez, a cyber security engineer. Mr Hernandez says he has wanted to make a competitor to Facebook for years, and is setting up the alternative now in the fallout of March’s revelations that up to 87m Facebook users’ information had been leaked to political data company Cambridge Analytica.
Despite the scandal, Facebook still has 2.2bn monthly active users, with thousands still signing up to Facebook and user figures have continuing to climb.
As well as having an audit team to monitor its developers, Openbook hopes to take advantage of the new data portability rules under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This gives European users the right and ease to transfer their data from Facebook and Twitter to another site.
— Joel Hernández ✨ (@lifenautjoe) July 10, 2018
The network also aims to be less addictive than Facebook, by reducing the number of notifications.
Openbook eventually intends to launch a marketplace and take a cut of online transactions, instead of generating revenue through advertising which is the main method undertaken by Facebook.
It will raise its initial funds from Tuesday on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website. Backers will receive branded T-shirts and mugs, as well as early access to the beta version of the site.