The basic premise of Unthink is its claim to be the “emancipation platform,” a place for people who want to be social online but are frustrated by unfavorable privacy policies, excessive advertising and unexpected updates that keep them unsure if their information is actually protected or not.
Since their launch on Oct. 25th, Unthink has registered over 100,000 new members, and claims they are doubling new registrants each day. Those are actually pretty impressive numbers considering it took Facebook a year to reach a million users and it looks as if Unthink could be on its way to that mark in just a few weeks. That is, if the hype and curiosity doesn’t suddenly waver. After all, there are a whole lot of industry folks and rebels that just wait for things like Unthink to pop up.
Whether they find success or not, they are executing a very interesting marketing strategy with their blatant attack on Facebook. Unthink CEO and founder Natasha Dedis has openly called Facebook the “place that looks like a palace, but in which users are slaves.” Unthink, she points out, is instead “a promised land [where users] own and can build what they want to build.”
Hmmm….is that a little over the top?
Check out the promo video:
There’s a whole lot of revolutionary language in there, and it goes with Dedis’ vision to radically transform the way people interact and share online. “It’s not a business,” she has said, “it’s a cause.”
With revolution, freedom and personal causes as the central theme, Dedis has gone on to say that there will be no place for traditional advertising on Unthink. Instead, the site will let people pick who they want to market to them, with Unthink protecting members’ data from advertisers. It’s actually a promise that is explicitly made on the site: “No ads. Not now. Not ever.”
However, the reality is that Unthink encourages users to choose a brand “sponsor,” who will cover the costs of maintaining their profile. In exchange, the sponsor will be showcased or displayed on the user’s page (in the form of an advertisement). If you’re the sort who wants a page free of sponsors (or advertising — even though we’re supposed to be thinking the whole jist of this thing is to be free from all advertising), you can make that happen by paying $2 a year.
I suppose $2 a year is a small price to pay, and the site’s design does put privacy as a primary focus. Unlike Facebook, who automatically makes a great deal information on new profiles public, Unthink’s default settings are in favor of the user’s privacy.
But I do wonder about the anger and hype. Especially when it comes to the “sponsors” and their roles.
In the end, is it all that different from Facebook?
I suppose time will tell.