MeWe Sold Itself on Privacy. Then the Radical Right Arrived.

onezero.medium.com
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"I'm an American who is sick and tired of you traitors," an account going by the name Chuck Testa posted on MeWe, an alternative social network popular with far-right extremists, two days after the…
MeWe's origins date back to five years before Mark Zuckerberg took TheFacebook online in his Harvard University dorm. In 1998, libertarian entrepreneur Mark Weinstein founded SuperGroups.com, a social networking site that billed itself as "a private place for you and your friends to gather on the Web." Though it was sold in the early 2000s, SuperGroups laid the foundation for MeWe, which Weinstein publicly launched in 2016.

Weinstein has described MeWe as the anti-Facebook for its decision to not sell or share user data, and for offering users "privacy by design" choices. Berners-Lee, who serves on MeWe's advisory board and did not respond to OneZero's request for comment, has claimed the platform will return "the power of the internet back to the people." Even mainstream privacy experts have championed the company's mission and stated commitments to not exploit people's personal information.

"Why single out MeWe? We're better at it than those guys are."

MeWe argues that it is home to conservative and progressive communities alike, and a simple search reveals communities celebrating Senator Bernie Sanders, veganism, and LGBTQ+ issues. In December, Vice News reported that MeWe was adopted by some Hong Kongers as "a form of resistance" against Facebook over surveillance and privacy concerns.

But the platform's focus on privacy has attracted other communities as well, such as "Antifa Exterminators," a group named for the militia organization "Oath Keepers USA," and "Stop Mandatory Vaccination OFFICIAL."

In a "Joe Biden Is Not My President" group observed by OneZero, members discussing the attack on the Capitol talked about shooting people.

"Can I be honest … the day I have to put a human life in my scope is gunna be a scary day ! I'm not looking forward to it," a user named Justin Alexander wrote in the group's chatroom.

"I'm not looking forward to it either," replied another person with the username Derek Howell. "But I'm at peace with it. And it's time."

A…
Sarah Emerson
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