A self-styled ‘ethical alternative’ to the social media giants, SuperNova say they give 60% of all advertising income to charities chosen by users, while providing 24/7 human moderation for a kinder, more inclusive online community.
Supernova: A non-toxic social network where ‘likes’ earn cash for charities
Supernova is an app that went live on the Apple and Android app stores last December, billing itself as a new “ethical alternative” to Instagram and Facebook, where more than half the ad revenue generated goes to charities chosen by the app’s users. In real terms it means that if Supernova can coax a mere 1% of the social media advertising market away from the big players, they’ll be handing $750m (£600m/€710m) to charities every year.
Supernova plans prevent toxicity on its platform
Founder and CEO of Supernova, Dominic O’Meara, a former Saatchi advertising guru and Bafta Award winner who is largely bootstrapping the startup, told yahoo!finance that sponsors like ASICS and charities like MQ have chosen to join at the launch because of the app’s “inclusive social network with user safety at it’s heart. It’s exactly this gap that Supernova fills and we’ll be scaling into that gap as the social network that gives back in the months and years ahead.”
He added said: “Our technology and accessibility make it possible for the world to genuinely help each other using social media and the power of advertising. And to see transparently exactly how and where their actions are helping at all times.”
Supernova plans to do this by preventing toxicity on its platform, and aims to create a place where users feel “safe, secure and encouraged to have positive, inspiring, life-affirming interaction with their friends… without having to witness and endure hate, racism, homophobia and extreme politics.”
The business model is simple. It will give 60% of its advertising revenue to global charities, with the money distributed according to members’ preferences across the following subjects: Climate Change, Animal Welfare, Emergency Causes, Health & Wellbeing, Help the Homeless, Human Rights, Mental Health and Ocean Cleanup. Which causes get the most money is determined by users.
If it can capture 1% or more of the global social media advertising market, says Supernova, it would be passing £600 million a year to charities ($750m/€710m). By contrast, the equivalent amount coming from Facebook and Instagram would generate £51 billion ($64 billion/€61 billion). However, all that revenue currently goes to Mr. Zuckerberg.
Facebook and Instagram famously say they ban hate-speech, but this rarely happens in practice. Supernova claims it will have “100% human moderation” to begin with, based on its Community Standards, and even pledges a whole Charter for users.
Moderators will be assisted by machine learning as the company scales
O’Meara claims over £1 million has been invested in Supernova from a “friends, family” funding round, with a larger raise planned for the first half of next year with institutions.
TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher asked about human moderation and was told by O’Meara that it would be done by “a trained team based in the U.K. and they cover in shifts managed by us 24/7. They are young, smart people mostly computer science grads/ undergrads and our intention is to develop them within the company as we grow, so that our team has an affinity and empathy for the community right from the start.” However, they will be assisted by machine learning as the company scales, he said.
“Supernova will free from the toxic, radicalising content that is actively promoted through AI on other platforms. As a result, Supernova will certainly not be for everyone, and that is deliberate,” he said.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ADVERTISERS?
O’Meara told TechCrunch: “Being part of a ‘new era’ social media that is doing the right thing is great for their brands (PR) as opposed to being part of an old toxic order that potentially harms their brands. Deloitte tells us that 80% of millennials only want to buy from brands that put others’ interests above their own. Large advertisers are fed up with the social media status quo: I met one yesterday with a global budget in excess of $10 billion who told me exactly that.”
“Our product is entirely scaleable and if we reach only 1% of millennials we’ll serve 40 million people with our sponsor’s ads every day. That’s quite enough as advertisers are now looking for ‘Quality over Quantity’. The Facebook boycott of 1K+ advertisers spending $4.2 billion was an early sign of this and it hasn’t gone away, there just hasn’t been an alternative offer available to them and now there is: Supernova,” he added.
Whether Supernova will survive remains to be seen. Questions remain over whether being a sort of “vanilla” social network where few tough or controversial subjects ever appear will be enough to attract users. And with content moderated by potentially biased humans, will Supernova end up being sued by those who dislike its decisions? But at least from this first showing, Supernova appears to be off to a good start.
Supernova: how “The Social Network That Gives Back” works
Included in Supernova ‘s Charter for a Brighter Social Experience are the following ways they say they intend to deliver on their promise of a brighter, more positive social experience; a blueprint for growing and maintaining a positive, inclusive community with more love and less hate. In their own words:
- A Guiding Principle
On Supernova, we have a single guiding principle for what to post: Try and offer value to others. It’s that simple. Try and add something to someone’s day. Big or small. You might make things more interesting, more entertaining, more amusing – even just for a nanosecond. It’s not a mandate, just an opportunity: to eliminate ‘humblebrags’, boasts and other negative posts, and build an amazing community sharing amazing content.
- Not ‘Likes,’ but ‘Thanks.’
On other social networks, tapping the heart symbol says ‘I like this.’ On ours, it says ‘Thanks for this.’ Thank you for adding to my day. Not only does this make the poster feel good, it actually does good- sending a little bit more money to the poster’s chosen cause. The whole system is designed so that users can reward each other for posting content that improves everyone’s experience.
- An Even Bigger Thanks
When something really makes your day, you can thank the poster with the Supernova button, worth 10x a regular ‘like.’ Users accrue these slowly over time, giving them all the more significance.
- The Good Newsfeed
We’ve all had enough bad news for the next 20 years or so. So on Supernova, we’ve got a newsfeed reserved entirely for good news. Specially curated, to bring you joy, laughter, and maybe a bit of hope that things are going to be quite alright.
- The Best Stuff on the Network
Scroll though the Supernovas section and you’ll find all the content people across the network are awarding Supernovas to. The very best of the app- an endless scroll of awesome.
- Time well spent
On Supernova, you are always doing good – merely by being here. In fact, the longer you spend here, the more you raise for great causes. So go ahead, watch that cat video. Watch all the cat videos. It’s guilt free scrolling. But don’t stay too long on your screen. Real life needs you too. Continued below, “LESS HATE”
- Human Moderation
Human beings, real actual people (plus one Robot named Ted), look after content on the site, call out hate speech and prejudice wherever it pops up, and remove content that violates our rules.
- No Hate Speech
Supernova will remove any form of Hate Speech. You’re free to express your opinion, but please act as you would have others be towards you. Pejorative references to a person’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation or belief of any kind will be grounds for immediate and permanent removal from the Network.
- Three Strikes and You’re Out
This is pretty straightforward. If members behave in an antagonistic or otherwise troublesome manner, they’ll be warned. If necessary, they’ll be warned again. But three strikes and you’re banned.
- No Politics
Some topics are best left at the door. This is one of them. Please avoid discussing political parties, politicians, etc. Politicians may not have pages as anything other than as individuals, posting about non political subjects. We also will never accept or feature any political advertising.
Our own super intelligent algorithm will hero the best, most liked content on the network, while deprioritising less appropriate/relevant content. It will reward users for being active, positive contributors to the community and penalise those who are a negativy influence.
- Direct Contact
Our members will have access to community managers who will address any incident of distress or harassment on Supernova in the event this has gotten past the actions and measures described above.
- External Audit.
Our performance and Governance of the above actions and measures and our effectiveness of upholding our Charter declaration will be assessed and audited by an external and independent commission. Comprising 12 unpaid volunteers from the Supernova community: elected for a term of one year. In this time Commissionaires will meet with the board of Supernova at least every three months to review performance and their findings will be published online and made available for all members to download. They will also form part of the Community Safety and Standards Board comprising members from our Sponsor and Charity Partnerships and our Ambassador, Curator and Industry Association communities.
- Representation and Inclusivity
We will ensure participation in all areas of our Network from the great diversity of society in terms of age, sex, race, colour, physical ability, mental ability, ethnicity, national origin.
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