Capsure, a privacy-focused, ad-free alternative to traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, has flown under the radar for the last two years. Founders Jeanne Lewis and Mark Wayman believed a substantial opportunity existed for those prepared to pay for a private, positive sharing experience.
After soft-launching in 2016, the founders focused on market research and feedback from early adopters to iterate on the private social media platform that they believe consumers are craving. Their patience paid off, and they’re poised to be the next hot Facebook alternative, growing their user base more than 740 percent month over month from October to November.
This was no doubt accelerated thanks to insurmountable headlines about the negative implications of Facebook’s model since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Criticisms include the role they’re playing in Myanmar’s ethnic genocide, the promises Mark Zuckerberg made before Congress in April and then broke, and how Facebook secretly hired a PR firm to smear their high level critics. News media has taken the gloves off this month with headlines like ‘Lawmakers fed up with Zuckerberg’, and ‘Is Facebook Ruining the World?’
“Whenever Facebook shows up somewhere, it seems to incite intercommunal bloodshed,” says pioneer programmer and computer scientist Jaron Lanier, “because the very way it functions is by grabbing people’s emotions, and the easiest ones to grab are the negative ones—the fight or flight emotions.” Lanier is the author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. But he adds a caveat.
“There could be some good social media,” he says. “The problem with social media right now is that it’s designed to manipulate you.”
A New Model for How We Connect
And that’s precisely what the makers of Capsure had in mind. What makes Capsure different from other platforms? They don’t sell user data, ever. Instead of a data model, they’re model involves selling media storage for users who require more than their free version offers. So they don’t have any reason to manipulate users the way traditional social media does. Groups are private and users can control exactly who sees content — a setup that’s ideal for families, colleagues, groups of friends, or anyone concerned about privacy.
“The point, for us, is that we want people to connect authentically with people they really care about,” says Capsure CPO Mark Wayman. “The way Capsure is set up, you have easy control over who sees what, so you can be more yourself around your cool aunt and siblings, but keep things low-key and respectable around Grandma or your colleagues.”
Capsure’s co-founder, Jeanne Lewis, leads the team as CEO. According to Lewis, the key to their rapid growth is that, for her, the app is personal. “We know folks are frustrated by traditional social media, from the way the feed is manipulated, to the flood of ads,” she says. “We know that, because we feel it, too.” Lewis and Wayman then spent time looking at the research in order to build a platform that harnesses the positive experiences of social media, and discards the negative.
Capsure is not the first to try and tackle this issue. Apps like ello and Vero gained early traction before losing favor with their user base. Lewis believes Capsure’s success is all about the user experience. “Focusing on the product was easy for us, because we made it for us. We knew there was a gap, and we wanted a way to share our own personal moments and memories in a safe and positive environment,” says Lewis.
Perhaps their most compelling feature seems like a small detail: the option to record audio over photographs — something that I myself didn’t know how much I would use until I downloaded the app and tried it. Capsure’s users reflect that same sentiment — more than 80% of posts to the platform utilize the audio feature to contextualize images.
Future Growth and Redefining Social Media
What’s next for Capsure? They’ve recently launched a Spanish version of their app, and they also released an intuitive photo scan option that makes scanning old photos to a Capsure board as easy as depositing an online check.
As Lanier points out, social media could be good. Now, with platforms like Capsure popping up, there’s a glimmer of hope for its future. Zuckerberg pays lip service to wanting to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” But Facebook does the opposite. Capsure, on the other hand, connects us the way we’ve always wanted from social media. While the world has yet to definitively decide on the future of social, Capsure is a strong contender.