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Culture

New social media app offers to pay users

Commentary: Treem is an app that claims to ensure that only certain people see your social media posts. And it promises to give power users 20 percent of any sale or IPO.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


A little complicated? Perhaps. But there may be money at the end of it.

Treem

Facebook is very clever.

It lures you into using it constantly, keeps all your data and sells your information to advertisers.

It makes all the money, while you have to make do with the occasional like and the occasional hate message.

Now a new social media app has emerged with an entertaining shtick. It promises that those who are the most regular users will get a 20 percent share of any eventual sale or IPO.

The app, which launched Thursday, is called Treem. Like all social media apps, it promises, sigh, "a better social media experience."

This involves you being able to allegedly ensure that only certain people of your choice will see your posts.

Sadly, its PR release uses the phrase "killer app." Look past that and you'll see that Treem "allows users to build discrete groups of contacts who will only receive a given message or piece of content if the user designates that they can see it."

Wait, didn't the unlamented Google+ have this notion? And it sounded like an awful lot of work. You can do it on Facebook too, but it takes effort. Why should Treem be any different?

CEO Ken Kaufman admitted that this takes work. He added, however: "That is why we incorporated the ability for individuals to share branches [the Treem name for groups] they already created. As we all know, there are always a few friends who are very organized. Treem enables those organized types to share branches and subbranches with friends."

You can't, however, bring over your Facebook groups. Facebook isn't open about the data it culls. On Treem, you have to start all over again.

Still, the company promises that it will keep all your communication private "in an era when platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are becoming increasingly public and subject to monitoring from employers, parents and other third parties."

I asked Kaufman about the bribe. I'm sorry, I mean the financial incentive for users.

"Twenty percent of our net profit at sale or IPO will be set aside and be split by members who have accumulated over 6,500 points by 31st December 2017," he told me.

Treem, you see, has a gamified approach to your activity. You get a certain number of points for, say, persuading everyone you know and love to participate in Treem and maintaining their participation.


How, though, can users be sure they'll qualify for the ultimate bounty? Will it be, as in the rest of society, just the 1 percent?

Kaufman told me: "We have a patent-pending algorithm and process to insure this happens and our users are rewarded. Nothing stops any user from accumulating points in Treem. Our awards model estimates approximately 2.5 percent of our members will achieve this goal, but it can be more or less based on usage."

This is the frequent flyer miles approach to an IPO. It's quaintly alluring.

The choice now is yours. Will you switch to a new social media app, in the hope that there might be some lucre lurking at the end of the rainbow? Or will you keep on giving Facebook everything you think, have and are because everyone else is doing it too and Facebook needs the money?

Mark Zuckerberg can never be too rich, after all.