Most social media users are familiar with the articles that get shared on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Now a new site, “Ideapod,” is looking to create a social media platform built around those articles. Although the site isn’t perfect, there is a surprising amount of potential behind this idea.
The home page is reminiscent of Pinterest, as all of the posts displayed on a user’s main page are accompanied by photographs, either of authors or users or something related to the post. Most of the actual posts are little more than clickbait, similar to Buzzfeed or the Daily Mail. Although few users are likely to come away with much useful information or a broader worldview, there are some interesting posts, if users are willing to look for them.
Ideapod is unique because it allows videos and up to 1,000 characters in every post, hence the article-length posts. Some of the videos on display may be interesting, but most users will be dissuaded by longer amateur videos, the same way most Snapchat users aren’t interested in stories that go on for over two minutes.
Once a user creates a profile on Ideapod, they are prompted for their interests, from religion and spirituality to world affairs and science and technology. Although broad, these categories help to narrow down what posts users will see on their front page. Some users might already see problems at this stage, as the categories are too broad for users to become really invested in the community. A right wing Israeli in Tel Aviv and a Palestinian in Bethlehem might both be interested in world affairs, but it’s hard to see how they will form an engaging online community, something social media thrives on.
The nature of the system also allows people to post relatively long pieces that make bold claims without providing sources, since there doesn’t seem to be a system for filtering material for authenticity. Post titles can also be misleading, as one post that seemed to be about Vikings turned out to an aspiring song artist’s lyrics, although the post lacked music.
Although all social media has to deal with some amount of misinformation and trolling, Ideapod doesn’t seem to have a good system for dealing with common issues like cyberbullying and flame wars. If a post contains hate speech or should be removed for any number of reasons, there isn’t anything a normal user can do about it. A user’s only options are to ignore the post, share it or reply in the comments, because comments sections are well-known places of knowledge and mediation.
Fortunately, if a user finds another user whose content they enjoy, they can follow them in a simple process not unlike Twitter. If a user is willing to put in the effort to find the content they really enjoy, it becomes easier over time to access it.
Ideapod is certainly an interesting addition to the social media sphere. Longer posts that emphasize videos or photos can be an interesting idea, if the users are there and administrators up for the challenge. It’s that second part that worries me, however, as the lack of tools to control discrimination, abuse or misinformation is worrying. If that issue can be fixed, however, Ideapod has the potential to become a serious competitor as a site where users can share information and ideas with one another.