Post social platform to shut down despite high hopes and ample hype

Alternative social media apps struggle to gain traction amid incumbents

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Although news content once propelled social media engagement and generated growth for various platforms, some newcomer social platforms have not been able to find a path to success, despite ample funding and initial excitement.

The latest social media site to shut down is Post, the news-centric social media app that billed itself as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook.

It will be shutting down in several weeks, its founder Noam Bardin announced on Saturday. Its demise, while reported in several technology publications, went largely unnoticed.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share this sad news with you,” Mr Bardin, the Israeli entrepreneur who previously co-founded the satellite traffic navigation company Waze wrote on the Post platform.

“We have done many great things together … but at the end of the day, our service is not growing fast enough to become a real business or a significant platform,” he said.

“A consumer business, at its core, needs to show rapid consumer adoption and we have not managed to find the right product combination to make it happen.”

In an interview with The National last year, Mr Bardin touted several advantages that he felt Post offered when compared to social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook.

Post offered a way for publishers to utilise micropayments from users on the platform to generate revenue for the articles they posted.

Mr Bardin pointed to the micropayments as one of the elements of Post that succeeded, despite the lack of rapid growth.

“[Post] validated many theories around micropayments and consumers’ willingness to purchase individual articles,” he wrote on the platform’s forthcoming closure.

“We even managed to cultivate a phenomenal tipping ecosystem for creators and commentators.”

Last year, Mr Bardin said Post had approximately 500,000 users which pales in comparison to Facebook’s approximately 2.9 billion users and X’s 300 million to 500 million users.

Another differentiator promoted by Post was its content moderation process, which Mr Bardin said was a major priority. It used both human and technological approaches to maintain its terms of service which sought to maintain civility and a diversity of opinions.

“When you go on the social media platform and you have an opinion, you should have the ability to state your opinion without being attacked personally,” he said.

Mainstream success remains elusive for newer social platforms

The Post platform was created amid the backdrop of Elon Musk’s purchase of X and attempted to gain traction amid an overall social media re-evaluation of news content from Meta, owner of Facebook, Instagram, Threads and WhatsApp.

Meta made it a point to de-prioritise news content on Facebook timelines and recently gave users the option to opt out of political content on Instagram in some countries.

Post, alongside other relatively new social media platforms such as Forth and BlueSky, sought to do the opposite by prioritising news and making news articles vital features.

The results, however, have been tepid compared to incumbent social media platforms enjoying mainstream success.

Artifact, an AI-infused news curation app, created by Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom recently announced it was closing.

While popular in certain circles, the platform never gained the base to enjoy long-term success, and the creators said they didn’t see a sustainable business model to keep it afloat.

“We have built something that a core group of users love, but we have concluded that the market opportunity isn’t big enough to warrant continued investment in this way,” read a message posted by Artifact on Medium.

“It’s easy for start-ups to ignore this reality, but often making the tough call earlier is better for everyone involved. The biggest opportunity cost is time working on newer, bigger and better things that have the ability to reach many millions of people.:

Several days after the announcement, Yahoo acquired Artifact, though it remains to be seen exactly what Yahoo plans to do with the technology.

For both Post and Artifact, statements from both companies had the common theme of not being able to scale quickly enough to generate a viable business model. Both platforms also emphasised news, rather than miscellaneous viral video or photo content.

Hints of success for other platforms

Other social media start-ups, such as Vero, have not necessarily put news front and centre, but rather, focused on photography, musicians and videographers to some degree of success.

That platform, which launched in 2015, has about six million users, according to co-founder Ayman Hariri, who lives in Dubai.

Last year, Mr Hariri announced the company's plan to launch subscription services to use the platform. It also acquired Tokenise Stock Exchange International Ltd, which Mr Hariri said would allow the platform to create a shared value between Vero and its users.

Regardless, Vero has proven to be among the more resilient newer social platforms in recent years.

“We want this to be community-owned,” he said in an interview last year. “We want to be fully regulated … when you look at any creator community, the creators provide enormous equity value they never have access to, and what we want to do is to allow for creators to unlock ownership in the platform at scale for the value they're bringing.”

As for Post and its founder Mr Bardin, there could likely be other ideas out of its demise, albeit in the form of different apps and solutions.

“We hope to see you again on our next missions,” the last line of his email to Post users read.

Updated: April 22, 2024, 10:29 AM