Student creates ‘democratic’ social media app | Campus

A Purdue student has invented a new social media app in an effort to tackle issues raised by social media giants selling their users’ private information.

Sophomore James Gastineau coded a solution in the form of an iOS social media app called Bloctab.

“Bloctab is a social media platform that uses Tinder’s swipe feature to sort out what’s trending and what’s not,” the 19-year-old said.

Bloctab, he said, not only does not collect data about its users, but it also has a democratic system for governing information on the platform using a group of “legislators”.

“It’s like a moderator,” Gastineau said. “But it’s more like an official democratic path.”

Legislatures, an independent body that any user can join by submitting an application, sifts through reports of misinformation or offensive content and decides, based on a majority vote, whether to blur the message, the current lawmaker said. Alex van Bibber.

“I think someone said something about President Biden’s bombing somewhere in Ukraine,” van Bibber said, so legislatures voted to censor him. They wrote a memoir about why they jammed it, which is available to everyone on the app.

Van Bibber has known Gastineau since they met in Carmel High School and got involved with the app when Gastineau called him last year to pitch his idea. Van Bibber attended Indiana University and majored in finance, the same major as Gastineau. In addition to talking about the difference between Krannert and Kelley, they talk extensively about legislative functions and features.

Although the content may be blurry, anyone wishing to see past the original content warning still can.

“We don’t filter fake news; it’s up to the user’s discretion to determine what’s fake and what’s not,” he said.

But the main purpose of Bloctab is to be fun.

“One of our biggest hurdles is that we don’t want the platform to be too political,” Gastineau said. He wants to market to users who will contribute to the fun atmosphere.

The platform has five main tabs: Trending, Sports, Entertainment, News, and Humor. When a post is in the feed, users can swipe left to dislike it and right to like it.

“I realized TikTok works really well because it’s interactive, you swipe up and down,” he said. “With Twitter and Reddit, my opinion initially was that it wasn’t as interactive. You scroll; you read, you don’t swipe, you don’t do anything really cool on the platform. And I thought there was a market opportunity for that.

Gastineau thought of the idea when he was a lifeguard in his senior year of high school. As he watched the kids, his mind wandered to r/WallStreetBets and how a decentralized group of individuals shut down Gamestop. This sparked the idea of ​​a decentralized and democratic social media application.

“It took me about a week of sitting in my chair trying to figure out, what if I do this? What happens if the legislature becomes too dominated by one political entity? So what can I do else, he said.

He has been working on the app for over a year and a half and gets some marketing help from his sister’s boyfriend.

The app attracted around 120 people, most of them her friends and family.

“One of my biggest hurdles is making users worthwhile right now,” Gastineau said. “Because there aren’t a lot of people there, like imagine Twitter with only 120 people there. It’s really hard to compete when there aren’t that many people on (Bloctab).

Tim Metken has known Gastineau for six years and originally joined the app to support him, but now checks it a few times a week. He found the premise intriguing.

“I like to go on Instagram and see what my friends have posted, but it’s just annoying to me when they recommend things that you clicked on and then you have an ad to buy something (which is) similar to what you searched for,” Metken says.

He remembers visiting Gastineau’s brother and seeing Gastineau working on various projects.

“I would go to their house and every two months he would have a new idea,” Metken said. “He always came up with stuff that I thought was cool.”

Besides Bloctab, Metken said, Gastineau also made a plastic bag to protect the shoes from the rain.

“I don’t think that one took off, but I love the spirit. He had a little shop in his basement,” Metken said.

The app is still a work in progress; one challenge is the amount of spam comments on posts. A post by @Eleni Maguire titled “usc and ucla join the big ten. how?!” has 10 likes and six dislikes, but 167 comments, most of which are spam.

“I don’t know who’s doing it, if it’s a bot, if it’s one of his friends picking on him, you know that’s a bad look for the app, obviously. Hopefully he knows how to limit that,” Metkin said.

Despite the bugs, Gastineau’s friends encourage new users to give it a try.

“It’s just an app where you can have fun with your friends,” van Bibber said.

“It’s transparent,” Gastineau said. “It’s democratic and it’s interactive.”

About Sandra A. Powell

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