Jimmy Wales is testing a new microblogging platform that would rival X, which is “unravelling” according to the Wikipedia co-founder.
The site can be accessed at trustcafe.io. Wales referred to it as a “small pilot project” during an interview on LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr.
“The idea is to replace social networks that really feed on attention, and likes and shares and all that and instead, the votes of trustworthiness based by trustworthy members of our community,” said Wales, noting the site is “completely independent” from Wikipedia.
“What’s happened with Twitter/X is a shame because, as you know as a journalist, it’s been a real part of the public conversation for a long time,” he continued. “And it seems to be becoming unravelled. I’m not sure what can replace it. I mean, I think something will replace it if [Musk] keeps it up.”
Since Elon Musk decided to steer Twitter in the direction of self-immolation in the name of (his concept of) “free speech,” a slew of competitors have cropped up: Mastodon, Post, Substack, and Threads. Yet none have yet to cause Twitter, now called X, to really sweat.
This is, in part, because major figures and news outlets are still yet to leave the platform. LBC being one of them — the global talk radio brand posted a clip of Marr and Wales’ discussion on the site.
Trust Café looks a bit too early-noughties Internet and appears to be lacking in both users and features, not to mention the name might be too close to Donald Trump’s Truth Social for some.
It’s little surprise, then, that Wales wasn’t keen on discussing the project in too much detail. “We’re not really trying to publicise it; you’re the first journalist I’ve actually mentioned it to, but there we are,” he told Marr. “I hope my team doesn’t get mad at me.”
Threads, which is still the most likely X challenger because it’s powered by the Meta/Instagram juggernaut, has seen user interest decline sharply since its early days in July. The platform has also come under scrutiny in recent days for its censoring of accurate Covid-related news and information as a side-effect of an overzealous effort to moderate the site from misinformation.
X, meanwhile, appears to be getting desperate. Having lost over 60% of its ad revenue in the past year, Musk has taken to scapegoating the Anti-Defamation League and cosying up with antisemitic rhetoric. Meanwhile, the company, clearly unable to sell enough ads themselves, has reportedly taken to Google Ads Manager to try and scrape back lost revenue on the open programmatic web.