Product genesis
Social networking has existed since the dawn of the internet. It evolved over time from file sharing via FTP servers, online forums via chat rooms, and desktop communicators to the modern social media platforms we know and love today, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Each successful social network business model is based on nearly identical fundamentals. There is always a "space" for members of the community to share a particular type of "feed," which is typically audio-visual content (images or videos), text (announcements, brief information, job listings), or a combination of the two.
This straightforward product is enhanced by one critical element: the user profile. The user profile enables each product user to feel as if they have the ability to create something they "own," something they can personalize and develop in the manner of an RPG character, using metrics as simple as the number of followers, likes, and overall subscribers. Users join, read content published by their friends or recommended by the network engine, and contribute new feeds. The more content published, the more traffic the network generates, which eventually leads to the final aspect of any social network: traffic-generated revenue. Anyone who has launched Youtube at least once is aware of how social networks make money: primarily through advertisements that are perfectly tailored to a user's activity history as determined by browser cookies or any action performed within the network. If you've recently discussed or spent an excessive amount of time staring at a picture of a new laptop on Facebook or Instagram, you can anticipate seeing a slew of promo-feeds for the latest laptops on the market. You can expect to see YouTube commercials for hiking equipment if you recently searched for weekend mountain trips. At first glance, the business model described above appears reasonable; however, upon closer examination, it becomes clear how dangerous it is for its own users.
"There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software." -Edward Tufte
It should go without saying that a user's addiction benefits a social network—the more users addicted to social products, the more traffic is generated. Traffic equals revenue, and the best part is that even as a "neutral viewer" who is "merely there to view other feeds," you can easily become addicted. As an active feeder, it's easy to develop an addiction, and you can rest assured that social media platforms will do everything possible to keep you posting (you will see your popularity growing, percent of profit shared, free products from companies seeking influencers, etc.).
The rate of addiction, however, is not the only issue with today's social media platforms. Recent studies have revealed an ever-growing list of pathologies caused by these products, including, but not limited to:
  • Polarisation problem. By limiting feeds and information to the field in which the user initially expressed an interest, society's polarization problem worsens.
  • Increasing FOMO (English: "fear of missing out") among younger generations who use social media by instilling psychological pressure to check frequently to see if "something happened" while they were away from their phones.
  • Exploiting the copyright and feed ownership of users (depriving users of any proprietary rights to the feeds they publish, so the social network company can re-use those feeds for their own profit). Tracking users' activities (as big data) for the purpose of generating additional revenue, without the users' explicit consent, or for nefarious purposes (U.S. election manipulation enabled by usage of Facebook data and recommendation engine).
Perhaps the most fundamental flaw of any social network is that it denies community members profits from the value they co-created from the start, forcing them to act more as exploitative resources than as equal partners in product development.
The preceding statement serves as the primary impetus for Candao - the first comprehensive social network that actively engages community members in co-creating value, rather than merely exploiting their membership participation.
Candao's vision views social networking space as a fundamental human right that should not be abused. In that sense, Candao is comparable to Wikipedia and LinkedIn, with the mission of ending the current process of knowledge monetization and enabling the monetization of time, skills, and contacts, as well as enabling people to share resources and various assets in order to build, collaborate, and deliver the created value collaboratively.