News-sharing social media site rejects censorship, algorithms

Think: Pinterest for news

For Facebook and Twitter users who think the platform's owners exercise too much control over what they see and don't see, there's an alternative.

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A news-sharing social media site called Moptu allows people to share news without censorship, memes, private messaging or algorithms that determine what appears.

Americans have become increasingly reliant on social media and apps to ingest news; 18% of Americans get their news from social media, and 25% get their news from a news website or app, a Pew Research Center analysis conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 found.

"About 10 years ago ... I was a reader of the Drudge Report, and I realized that the Drudge Report was great, but all Matt Drudge was doing was putting links up on a page," Moptu co-founder Josh Namm, 51, told Fox News. "He was really good at aggregating links and putting them on Drudge, so we could check it 5,000 times a day,"

Moptu.com screenshot (FBN)

At about the same time the Drudge Report started growing in the early 2000s, Namm and several of his friends were sending four or five articles to each other via email every day.

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Eventually, Namm and his best friend, Charles Haspel, came up with the idea for Moptu; a platform that would combine everything that made the Drudge Report and social media so attractive to people interested in politics, news and research in general.

Think: Pinterest but for news. Moptu users get to choose which categories best fit their interests out of 27 options from politics to sports, recipes, history and so on; give those categories customizable names and sub-categories; and organize news articles in any way they want on their account pages, similar to Pinterest "boards."

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Bloggers can also post articles to Moptu so as long as they fit into one of the topic categories.

Users can follow other users, like posts, comment on posts and mute other users. Unlike other social media sites,however, Moptu allows users to turn comments on certain posts on or off and does not have any algorithms.

"We really believe that the post should show up in the order of the posting," Namm said, adding that users can still organize their own pages to highlight some articles before others. "We don't manipulate in any way the way posts appear on people's feeds. We really believe everybody should be treated fairly and equally. We really believe in free speech."

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Moptu has terms of use that ban racism and calls to violence like any other social platform but does not otherwise flag, remove or censor posts on people's feeds.

"There's fake news on both sides," Namm said. "And if you read an article and you're susceptible to something that's completely fake -- well, that's kind of your fault."

Republican lawmakers have criticized Facebook and Twitter in recent months for what they allege to be a bias against conservative users and posts, a charge the companies reject.

That criticism escalated when both websites decided to temporarily limit distribution of -- or outright block -- a New York Post report about 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

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The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on Wednesday during which lawmakers pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai about their content-moderation rules.

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President Trump has condemned the two sites after they began flagging and hiding his posts more frequently over the summer, prompting him to call for the removal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives liability protections to social media platforms that allow third-party users to post content on their sites.

Facebook and Twitter have censored Trump 65 times and 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden zero times since March 2018,  according to an October study from the Media Research Center.

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Biden has also called for the removal of Section 230 but for reasons that differ from Trump's. While Republicans argue that Section 230 protections should be revoked if social media platforms censor too much content, Biden told The New York Times in January that companies should have their 230 protections revoked if they don't censor enough content they deem harmful or misleading.

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