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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Open-Source Social Media – The Importance of Transparency

October 23, 2017 No Comments

The open source movement initially emerged as a response to the proprietary, closed-source practices that have dominated the vast majority of the software industry. While only 2 of the top 100 Internet companies are open source — WordPress and Wikipedia — this once niche movement is now rapidly growing and gaining momentum.

There are many advantages to open source software, including transparency, freedom, security, accountability, and cost. However, not all users are aware that you don’t need to be a developer or even tech-savvy to benefit from open source. In order to help the movement thrive, industry leaders can help educate communities about the true values behind open source, such as social consciousness, freedom of information, privacy, transparency, community, and a more fair and equitable world on the whole. In addition, we can highlight the open source foundation of tools and platforms all of us like to use every day — such as social networks.

  • Q. What do you think are the biggest issues with mainstream social media?

A. Today’s most popular social media platforms are hugely problematic because they don’t put the users first. Though users create original and engaging content, they aren’t rewarded enough or paid for adding this value to the networks. Their personal data has become the product these networks are profiting from via surveillance. Oftentimes, free speech is hindered, filtered, and over-moderated; and in fact, we’re really at the mercy of feed algorithms that determine what content we see and when we see it. Most importantly, there is little transparency with regards to corporate decision-making as well as the software itself, which is usually proprietary as opposed to free and open source.

  • Q. How does open-sourcing social media improve the user experience?

A. Open sourcing social media is a way to provide the community with full transparency and control over their digital lives. It means that the social network can be truly designed for, and owned by, the users themselves. When you look at the bigger picture, free and open source software (FOSS) has the potential to transform issues like freedom, privacy, security, efficiency, business ethics, speed of innovation, and community collaboration. Full transparency into code and policy is the only way to build a truly user owned and operated social network for the people. It also keeps our moral compass in check, if users don’t like what we do they can easily launch their own distribution.

  • Q. In what ways is Minds “owned and operated” by the users?

A. Minds is owned by over 1500 individual investors from around the globe. We broke the SEC Regulation CF equity crowdfunding record for the fastest company to raise $1 million in June 2017. We truly are community-owned and operated and we welcome users to contribute to maintaining and updating our open-source platform. Our community plays a major role in helping to build our development roadmap, administering the support group, reporting content in violation of our terms of service, and most importantly, creating and sharing content throughout the network.

  • Q. How can users contribute to an open-source platform like Minds?

A. We welcome the developer community to contribute via and We also have a community development group where users are invited to participate. The Minds community is always looking for help on documents, features, bugs, and more.

  • Q. What can users do with Minds that they can’t do with other social networks?

A. Minds harnesses end-to-end encryption to protect user privacy and delivers 100% of user content to newsfeeds in real-time, so that content shares are not subject to any manipulative or restrictive algorithms. For example, Facebook only allows pages to reach a small percent of their own followers. Inversely, Minds rewards users with points for using the app which can be used to boost their content for free views from users outside of their own subscribers.

The monetization console allows user to earn revenue through crowdfunding, affiliate sales, tips and advertising. One of the primary goals of the network is to help people earn a living pursuing their passions.

Bill Ottman - CEO

Bill Ottman, CEO of

Bill founded Minds in 2011 with the goal of bringing a free, open source and sustainable social network to the world. He co-founded multiple viral media organizations, holds a fellowship at Boston Global Forum and serves on the Advisory Board of Code To Inspire, a non-profit building coding schools for women in Afghanistan. He graduated from University of Vermont with a BA in English.

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