Web founder Tim Berners-Lee is one of the privacy advocates behind a newly launched service that combines social media, cloud storage, person-to-person, and group communications for privacy-conscious users.
The so-called MeWe private communications network spun out of online privacy company Sgrouples -- founded by online privacy advocate Mark Weinstein -- doesn't own, track, or share, information its members provide or share among one another. MeWe encrypts personally identifiable information and most of its communication is SSL-encrypted, and the platform was built with Scala and LISP.
MeWe follows a string of other privacy-oriented services, including secure mobile messaging service Wickr and Silent Circle, which offers private and secure voice, video, text, and file transfer services on mobile devices. The prospect of "leave no trace" communications has become more attractive to some more privacy-concerned users given the large amounts of data gathered by sites such as Facebook and Google, and especially in the wake of the NSA leaks exposing the agency's controversial online surveillance programs.
Weinstein describes the typical MeWe user like this: "I have social network fatigue. I want a global communications network where I can stay in touch with family, friends, and co-workers. But this is not another social media" platform, he says. "It's a private communication network... and we don't track" users or their activity, he says.
"So when it comes to security, the first line is that we are not storing or aggregating or analyzing member data," he says. "And you can't post to the whole MeWe world -- only to your [designated] MeWe world."
Weinstein declined to provide data on membership thus far. MeWe is free and comes with (for free) a personal news feed, voice integration, detailed permission controls, 8 GB of storage, and it also runs on Android and iOS, as well as desktop machines.
How will MeWe make money? With optional services you can add such as its extra data storage option (up to 500GB) and picture printing via Walgreens, for instance. On tap is a MeWe app store, and eventually, a subscription-based enterprise version.
And for those users who just aren't ready to break ties with traditional social media, MeWe has an option to also post to their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media accounts.
"The original idea of the Web was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information, MeWe advisor, Berners-Lee said in a statement. "The power to abuse the open Internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies. MeWe gives the power of the Internet back to the people with a platform built for collaboration and privacy."