In a digital ecosystem dominated by centralized giants, Republike is emerging as a breath of fresh air. Founded by Etienne de Sainte Marie, this platform aims to redefine our relationship with social networks, by giving users back power over their data and moving them away from their current status as a product and transforming them into owners. We went to meet Etienne to understand this revolutionary initiative.
Can you describe Republike in two sentences?
Republike is a social network that aspires to free us from the attention economy, making users the owners. Our goal is to rebuild healthy engagement and recreate authentic social interactions, while providing greater freedom of expression and quality content.
How did the idea for Republike come about? Can you tell us the story of the birth of the platform?
Originally, we wanted to develop a platform that would free the user from the influence of algorithms, in order to create a context for content that reflects what users really like and not what makes them react mechanically. Our objective was to gamify the content through a concept of battles, all themes, all media in order to offer the best user-generated content (UGC). But very quickly, especially during the 2020 US presidential elections, we realized that there were much deeper issues surrounding SR. The concrete purpose being that there is a need to reinvent the concept of social network.
According to your slogan, the idea of your social network “Republike” aims to make users owners. But owner of what? In what way?
In today’s social media world, users are more than just participants in activity; they are its true essence. They generate content and devote their attention to these platforms, attention which is then monetized by them. In reality, the users themselves have become the products. To break this attention-based financial dependence, we designed a radically different business model, which we call “ Pay-to-Own “.
In this model, users contribute to financing the platform, but it is not a simple transaction. Their investment gives them a real and tangible share in the project. This is a process that we are constantly developing and refining, and it will likely involve the use of a security token.
The idea behind it is simple: you take care of your home because it belongs to you. In the same way, by becoming co-owners of Republike, users will be encouraged to maintain and enrich the platform, while directly benefiting from its success.
“ Earn tangible rewards for your contributions ”, this is the model of your platform. How is this new model interesting for users? Isn’t this the same principle as X, formerly Twitter, on which Elon Musk also pays content creators?
Indeed, at first glance our model may seem similar to that of X, where Elon Musk also rewards content creators. However, this similarity is superficial. The fundamental difference lies in our approach to engagement. On X, as on many other platforms, reward is primarily based on the volume and quantity of engagement, a dynamic often influenced by the attention economy and, indirectly, by advertising.
At Republike, we have completely redesigned our engagement system to break away from this dependence on user attention. Our objective is to introduce a qualitative dimension, rooted in respect for certain values, in particular through our moderation process.
We focus less on the raw content itself, and more on the emotional context and intention behind each post, how it is presented. This allows us to free content from typical constraints and filter according to intent rather than arbitrarily. The result is a wider and more diverse range of content, presented in a healthy emotional context.
It’s a true revolution in the way content is shared and enjoyed.
What are the concrete advantages of your platform for users?
If I only refer to the numerous user feedback: the possibility of being authentic, the quality of exchanges, the emancipation of censorship and the freedom from self-censorship, but all this in a healthy context. Secondly, the prospect of being able to earn money and, ultimately, become an owner (but this is what allows for authenticity and richness of content).
To go a little further, how does Republike defend freedom of expression through a paid platform?
The defense of freedom of expression on Republike, although being a paid platform, is anchored in the principles that we have already mentioned. Our moderation system does not focus solely on raw content, but rather seeks to understand the intention behind each post, while respecting legal limits.
For each flagged piece of content, we involve a panel of seven users who assess the emotional context and intention behind the content, a process we call “ sentiment analysis “. Users who side with the majority in their decision to reject or keep content are rewarded in tokens.
This approach will also impact the “Respect” metric, one of the four key dimensions that determine the level of a user’s profile on Republike. This profile level in turn influences the rewards that users can receive, whether financial, related to voting power, or visibility on the platform.
In short, our paid model does not limit freedom of expression, on the contrary, it encourages more thoughtful and responsible participation.
How does the notion of Web3 fit into the platform and, more generally, the project?
We will introduce the concepts of Web3 and blockchain where necessary, which includes:
- the “Pay-to-Own” business model;
- moderation ;
- the engagement and reputation system that will determine profile levels;
- the profiles themselves which, later, will be NFTs.
What can we expect from Republike in the future? How do you plan to continue revolutionizing the social media industry?
If I had a magic wand, my primary objective would be to reduce the influence of economic models based on the attention economy, which have profoundly influenced our societies over the last two decades, both in the digital world and in the real life.
Our ambition with Republike is to make the “Pay-to-Own” model not only viable, but also obvious. I am convinced that this is achievable. We have already observed an encouraging trend: during our Alpha phase, around 20% of users chose to pay to use the platform, even when the free option was available.
If we can anchor this model in user habits, we will have accomplished something remarkable. This would open up immense prospects for a healthier and more balanced use of social networks, exploiting their potential in a more constructive and beneficial way for society.
In summary, Etienne de Sainte Marie highlights the revolutionary vision of Republike, a social network that aims to transform users into co-owners and promote more authentic and qualitative interaction on networks. By moving away from traditional business models based on the attention economy and integrating technologies such as Web3 and blockchain, Republike is positioning itself as a potentially disruptive player in the world of social networks. This initiative could not only redefine the way we interact online, but also positively influence our relationship with technology and digital society.
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