Today's biggest social media platforms are addictive by design, invade your privacy and your rights, and divide us further from each other.
We believe five principles will make ROVR a more human and truly social Social Network.
- "Experience" over "Content"
- "Value" over "Engagement"
- No User Tracking, No Targeted Ads
- Open Algorithms
- Open Source
We developed these principles after studying social media’s interrelations with mental health, culture, and the economy. In particular, the works of Shosana Zuboff, Jaron Lanier, Cory Doctorow, Vivek Murthy, Nicholas Carr, and Tristan Harris inform our thinking. We also bring in insights from building free/libre open source software (FLOSS), working on non-profit and government social projects, and academic research in these areas. Most importantly, we have spent 3,000 hours talking with people in Social VR. We have learned insights from people of all backgrounds, from all over the world.
We will discuss our philosophy further in a longer document. For now, here are short explanations of how each principle shapes ROVR.
- "Experiences" over "Content". VR lets you interact with real people in real time across any distance. Instead of consuming endless posts, photos, and videos alone, wouldn’t you rather be together with your favourite people? ROVR encourages the best of Social VR: spending quality time with your friends, meeting interesting people from all over the world, and experiencing new things together.
- "Value" over "Engagement". "User engagement" and "user retention" are how every other social media site measures success. But these metrics—the attention economy—eat up your time, increase anxiety, create echo chambers, and lead to mass surveillance. ROVR will respect your time and your agency. We will not use dark patterns or popularity contests to keep you on our platform. We believe helping users find value in Social VR means encouraging fulfilling social interactions, strengthening relationships, and helping communities bond.
- No User Tracking, No Targeted Ads. Unlike most other social networking sites, we will not harvest and sell your data. You are not a product. You are a person, and have a right to privacy. We respect that. We will monetize ROVR in non-invasive and user-aligned ways, which we discuss in our Product Roadmap. You can look at your data rights on ROVR here.
- Open Algorithm. Social algorithms dictate what you see online, who you interact with, how "popular" you are, and generally make people more anxious and silo'd in their respective echo chambers. ROVR algorithms will prioritize different kinds of "value" based on the feature in question, such as human connection (Guest List), social interaction (Events), and belonging (Community Groups). An open, accessible, and well-documented algorithm creates a feedback loop that lets people know how ROVR works, and keeps us accountable to our users' rights, needs, and wants.
- Open Source. Being open source reinforces each principle above. Open source code keeps ROVR transparent, accountable, and secure. Open source means any developer can see what we're doing, suggest improvements, recommend bug fixes, and integrate their own apps into ROVR. Open source means that we are against a monopoly of VR: VR should be shaped by and for the people who care about it most.
We are still learning, and will continue to deepen our thinking on these principles with our users and the VR community. Let us know what you think through the feedback button, Twitter, or our Discord server.