New social media app Basement follows Facebook's shift to private online communication

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no new friends

New social media app Basement follows Facebook's shift to private online communication

Basement, a Y Combinator-backed startup launched their new social media app yesterday. We know what you’re thinking...

Do I really need another forum to judge strangers and subject my fleeting thoughts to public scrutiny? That’s why I have Instagram and Twitter. Hard pass.

Basement’s thoughts exactly, the new app is positioning itself as the social network for close friends -- users can only maintain 20 friends (aww, remember top 8 drama?).

A Path more or less traveled
Basement isn’t the first to take a stab at the close-friend network. Path, founded in 2010, offered a similar experience (messaging + photo-sharing + 50 friend max) and garnered 50 million users before losing steam and shutting down last year
 

The Antisocial Network

Whether Basement succeeds where Path failed is anyone’s guess, but the idea that people want more private communication and control over their data is very real.

Even Facebook, the OG open social network and poster child for playing it fast and loose with your privacy, is apparently making a long-term push towards private communication. 

Zuckerberg wrote a long, aspirational manifesto earlier this month where he outlined his vision for the future of Facebook, the cornerstone of which is an emphasis on end-to-end encryption (aka FB can’t read your messages) across all messaging services (FB Messenger, Instagram DMs, WhatsApp). 

Facebook wants to be more dinner party chat, and less town square tar and feathers

What about money?
Doesn’t Facebook make money by creeping on its users’ interests and whereabouts to target advertisements? Yup. If they’re serious about a transition to private messaging, they’re going to need a new line of business.
 

Eastern Promises

A successful chat-centric social platform that isn’t ad-dependent already exists, it’s called WeChat and it has over a billion users in China. 
WeChat makes money by taking a cut from mobile payments on its app when users shop, play games, call a cab, and order food. WeChat’s payment service is simply put, how you pay for things in China. 

Zuckerberg alluded to following the WeChat payments model for chat monetization but it’s going to be hard to emulate. Where WeChat plays in China’s single currency market, Facebook will have to either build per country localized payment services or create a currency that spans borders (Facecoin?).

It’s going to be a delicate balancing act weaning off the News Feed cash cow, building a chatty future, and keeping shareholders happy. 
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Brendan Uyeshiro
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