In recent years, various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have come to dominate the lives of many Americans. With so many different platforms easily accessible, many Americans, particularly the younger generations, have become reliant upon social media to get through their day-to-day lives. What many fail to realize about social media is that it is often used to collect information on its users, which has recently given social media a bad reputation. As a result, some companies are trying to create a platform that is truly catered to the user.
Openbook is one of the latest companies trying to enhance social media through their own platform. Their idea is based on a platform that is easily customizable for the end user and focuses on privacy protection. By combining these two qualities, customizability and privacy, Joel Hernandez, the brain behind the Openbook vision, believes they can work to capture some of the users of the larger platforms.
Hernandez initially came up with the idea for OpenBook when he heard a lunchtime conversation of a group of individuals complaining about the flaws of current social media platforms. He heard them voice frustration about “creepy ads, being spammed with messages and notifications all the time, constantly seeing the same kind of content in their newsfeed.” The idea for Openbook’s new platform will not follow the existing mold laid out by so many other existing platforms. Rather, it will utilize functionality and customizability that can stand on its own.
On the team backing the idea is Phil Zimmermann, who is considered royalty in the cryptography world. Zimmermann is on the board of the company as an advisor but will serve in a platform building role when the time is right. Hernandez and Zimmermann worked together in the past, so when they sat down to discuss this idea for the first time, Zimmermann immediately warmed up to it. In fact, the Openbook funding page on Kickstarter contains a video of Zimmerman explaining the merit behind the new concept and the faults of the current industry. He says, “It’s crazy what we were doing a century ago. I think there will come a time, some years in the future, when we’re going to look back on social network today, and what we were doing to ourselves, the harm we were doing to ourselves with social networks.”
One key aspect of the new platform is the data parsing. Within the new platform, there will be functionality that allows the user to see what data and information they have on current social media platforms and move the selected data to the Openbook platform. In many ways, this solution will help alleviate the problem of getting users to switch platforms.
When specifically asked about other platforms which have tried to leverage the weaknesses of Facebook, Hernandez said that he believes these platforms did not have the right focus. In his mind, people were focusing heavily on building an anti-Facebook. Instead of focusing on the final product, they focused solely on being a solution to the problem at hand. Hernandez firmly believes their approach is different as their platform relies on digital currency and they are focusing on getting people excited about social media again. In that light, they are highlighting the features and opportunities of the new platform while also providing the benefit of increased privacy.