Commentary

New Social Net, Candid, Aims For Anonymity And Civility

While some people use social media as a way to connect with family and friends, share meaningful moments, and meet new people, a vast, feral subset of users have decided it is a place to unleash obsessive hatred against complete strangers, apparently due to boredom, cowardice and Axis II personality disorders. In fact, is has become so common it now has a name, “trolling.”

There’s one easy solution to this problem – stop using social media – but many will reject this because it is letting the trolls win. Another solution comes from a new social network, Candid, that restores anonymity to social media but also actively moderates content and hands out reputation ratings for users who are chronic offenders.

Candid users sign in from their Facebook account, and the network tells them how many of their Facebook friends are also on Candid, but not which ones. It also draws on users’ Facebook data to recommend groups based around interests, so users aren’t simply recreating their Facebook networks on Candid. Candid also assigns a new, randomly selected name to the user for each post they make, meaning there’s no way to know if a particular post comes from a Facebook friend or a complete stranger. Additionally, each new post exists separately from all others, so you can’t tell if any two posts are from the same person – although the random user name persists for the length of a comment thread, allowing continuity within conversations.

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However, that doesn’t mean Candid doesn’t keep track of who posts what: in fact it assigns ratings to users based on the type of content they create over time – so someone who is constantly critical of other people will get a “hater” rating, allowing other users to put their nasty comments in perspective. Finally, it employs natural language processing and artificial intelligence to identify and remove inappropriate content, in order to keep the inevitable troll-like behavior to a minimum.

Candid founder Bindu Reddy, formerly head of product for Google’s social apps, summed up the thinking behind Candid: “Expressing my opinion, especially about controversial issues, inevitably upsets someone. I needed a place to express myself and engage in discussions where ideas can be debated on their own merits instead of being used to attack me as a person.”

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