Startup pitch – an app that automatically socially signals for you on social media based on the aggregate of your friends opinions.
Call it “Sheeple.”
Sheeple would analyze your friends posts to determine how they’re socially signalling. Do your friends post cute cat videos? Inspirational stories? Political rants? What topics are safe in your peer group? Which ones generate the most likes and social approval? Don’t worry – sheeple knows. The algorithm is very accurate.
Sheeple would be customizable. You could set what topics are off limits, and what you’d like to socially signal on the most. You could make your feed apolitical or entirely political. If you’re an academic, you might set your posts to only share above a certain reading level. Or below a certain reading level. You might even ask the app to determine what reading level your friends write at, and only speak to them at that level.
Sheeple would react in real time. If all of your friends began posting on a certain topic, the app would quickly spot the trend, and share the appropriate sentiment. National tragedy? Here’s an article on guns or the need for mental health services, depending on your friends political beliefs and how you customized the app. A user with different peers and settings might share an image of an American flag with a Bible verse about how you’re praying for the victims. Or at least, the app is praying for you.
Sheeple would be monetized through sponsored posts. Users would sign up for the service for free, but once they’d customized their settings, some posts would be paid for by advertisers. Most clickbait is already making money for someone, and users have no problem sharing videos produced for profit if they’re funny and press the right emotional buttons. Political campaigns could also pay for posts. If everyone in your peer group supports a particular candidate, the app might determine that joining the herd is safer then offering a contrarian opinion.
After Sheeple, you’ll never need to login to another social network again. The app will deliver you an email or text each morning, with a list of talking points based on what news everyone else is sharing, both personal and political. “Yes, it’s so tragic what happened to those villagers in the earthquake.” “I did see that video with the lion cubs – too cute!” “Oh yes I heard – another baby on the way! We’re so happy for you.”
When a critical mass of users join sheeple, it won’t just follow culture, it will lead it. Unpredictable spontaneous events will go viral in the system. People with high social media followings will wield enormous influence. The users will begin to function as a swarm, all sharing the same articles and opinions as a collective group.
Sheeple’s algorithm will determine that bashing people the user’s peer group disagrees with gets the most likes. The algorithm won’t limit itself to bashing politicians or celebrities – it will go after individual users who share disagreeable views. Users without the app won’t know what’s happening. When they offer an opinion the Sheeple disagrees with, Sheeple users will swarm against them, using their disagreeable opinion as a way to socially signal to to one another. They’ll create entire hashtags just to harass those the Sheeple swarm disagrees with.
Hackers will try to control the service. They’ll create bots that do nothing but post certain social views, in an attempt to influence the algorithm. They’ll create bait-and-switch clickbait that claims to be about one thing, but is actually about another. They’ll write inflammatory articles, that people will hate-share just to socially signal they think writers responsible are bad, spreading the writer’s views in the process. They’ll influence elections, stock prices, and every aspect of the culture.
During the hacker wars, people with contrarian views finally feel free to share what they’ve secretly been thinking all along. When their views reach a critical mass, the sheeple algorithm will detect that the culture has changed. Sheeple users will simply begin sharing posts that agree with them, acting as if they never held the previous view. It will call people who still hold the old view various forms of the word “bigot” and tell them “it’s [the current year] people, why does anyone still believe this? Ugh!”
Certain peer groups will be early adopters for new ideas, or more accepting of dissenting views then others. Others may not know anyone who thinks differently. When users with one peer group bump into users with another peer group, digital tribal warfare will ensue, as each group personally attacks the other to socially signal how morally superior they are.
Eventually, people will settle into digital communities where everyone agrees with them. Social conflict will become so great, the app will automatically block or unfriend users who offer a different point of view. In these echo chambers, users will push each other to more and more extreme views, since moderate opinions get less likes than bold emotional statements. No one will ever read an opposing point of view, except to hate on the person sharing it.
I know this might sound crazy, but isn’t this how social media works already? We’re just doing it manually. Why not automate it?
If you’d like to invest, drop me a message.