Is this the future of SOCIAL MEDIA? Find out what U-Space is on C-Level with Chris DeBlasio with guest Tobin Brogunier of U-Space.
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Is this the future of SOCIAL MEDIA? Find out what U-Space is on C-Level with Chris DeBlasio with guest Tobin Brogunier of U-Space.
– Today on C Level, Tobin Brogunier, the founder of USpace, stops by. We talk about social media and privacy. Tobin, thanks for comin’ by. So we’re gonna talk about privacy, social media, a lotta stuff, but tell me a little bit about you first. – Well, my background is actually in humanities, not technology. I graduated with a degree in English Literature from Oberlin College in 1995, which makes me old officially. And middle old. – Middle old, yeah, yeah. – So with a focus in fine art. And my career has been actually in editorial and commercial photography. So that’s been the majority of my career. I worked in Brooklyn for seven years. I worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota for about seven years. And then I moved down here and found out that commercial photography had no future and went directly to social media. So I just started creating camera content for social media. And from that work doing social media I, well, I became one of the people working on the backend of the Facebook boosted advertising system, and I became a Facebook, a social media marketing person. – And so you’re developing all this content and you’re leveraging social media. So what was this for like ads? How are you putting this– – So when I, when I kind of, when I moved to Georgia the commercial market, I moved for love so I didn’t have my base of, commercial base. ‘Cause your network is where you move. And so I moved outside of my network and into a small market. And being inside of a small market what the local businesses wanted was a lot of content. And they wanted, so I would, I would shoot mostly events or I would shoot fashion or whatever and just dump a lot of content onto their Facebook page and then people would tag themselves and they’d use it organically. – So tell me a little bit about the hat. – So the hat is, I just wanna, just quick background because I am not a ranger technically, but I’m an honorary ranger ’cause I have friends in north Georgia who are rangers, and two weekends ago they invited me to the ranger open house at Camp Merrill. And it was awesome ’cause I saw guys jumping out of helicopters and I saw four paratroopers land in the exact same spot from 12,000 feet all in sequence about every 20 seconds. It was amazing. So my friend, Steven, who lives in north Georgia, is a ranger and he invited me down. And I’ve kind of been an honorary ranger for a couple years. So I thought I would buy the hat, but technically, so it’s, okay so the ranger motto, to be clear, is lead the way. And I do feel like I am part of that spirit because I feel like, I feel like USpace is pushing, is leading the way into the next iteration of social media. We’re social 2.0. – So, you’re doing your photography, you’re leveraging social media, so how did you kinda stumble into your concept with USpace? – So I started marketing, when I became, when I did local marketing I realized that if I’m gonna do all of this backend and go through the labyrinth Byzantine user interface of Facebook’s advertising platform that is barbaric and impossible to understand, if I’m gonna go through all of that pain and suffering of non-user-friendliness, then I’m going to market high end items. So I moved to Asheville, North Carolina to work for a furniture company that sold high ticket items, like starting at 1500. So if I could, if you’re selling social media and you sell a couple of dinners, the person running that business doesn’t care. It’s just not enough conversion. So I went to higher ticket items like mattresses, motorcycles, things like that cost between $2,000 and $10,000. Now in 2016, no 2017, one of my favorite musicians, whose name is also Tobin, Tobin Sprout, co-founder of Guided by Voices, came through town in Asheville at The Moth, The Mothlight, and me and Rachel, my fiance, went to the show. It was a great show. It was the Universe and Me tour. And I had known that I saw a show of his at place called Creative Electric back when I lived in Minneapolis back in 2006. He does great photo realism, like incredible work. So after the show I asked him if he’d ever sold a painting for more than $10,000 using online marketing. And he was like, “Well, no, I’ve never done that before.” And I said, “Well, let’s do this.” So I took him on as a client specifically writing criticism of his fine art, and using that content to leverage leads in social media. – Was this primarily on Facebook? – This was primarily, well I would, the website is blog.tobinsprout.net. And also Flood Content is the name of it, the name of the company that was producing this content, my company. And you can find the content at floodfineart.com. But so I would write this, I would write these pieces, and then I would promote it from a website. I’d boost it from the website to drive traffic back. And it’s been a good, it’s been a good gig. It’s worked. We’ve sold quite a bit of work. And he’s been a great client. And now he’s actually a founding partner of this enterprise USpace. So Tobin Sprout has been brought on. He saw the vision very early on of the use of a privacy focused network. – And a lot has changed even in the advertising, Facebook has changed a lot of different things like with their algorithms and stuff. But the biggest thing that obviously hit the news was the whole privacy thing. So let’s talk a little bit about that. What, we’ve heard all the stories in the news and talk a little bit about your feelings on the privacy and then what makes USpace a little bit different. – I think that what people don’t really understand is that privacy is also safety. You’re in an unsafe environment whether or not it has adversely affected you. Do you see what I’m saying? So, you’re literally in this space. And at some point in the future, there’s armies of bots sharing the same space. There are people who are geniuses at publishing. Okay, so there’s two billion people on this platform. Let’s say .01% of those people are geniuses at writing divisive outrageous content. We’re talking, I don’t know, like maybe 200,000 or two million amazing publishers that have access to the entire platform. Geniuses, publishing geniuses, and that’s, so to assume that just because you’re doing what you’re doing and you feel like you’re in a safe environment I think is a naive assumption because you don’t understand until your privacy is violated, until something really bad happens, what the fallout can possibly be. – So do you think a majority of people now know that, I mean, they’re using a free service, knowing that they’re– – Are you talking about Facebook? – Facebook, any social media platform. I mean if it’s a free service – Facebook, Twitter, – That means they’re, – Instagram. – You’re giving up something. So you think most people know that their information now is being shared and– – Well, I’ve seen statistics that say that 70% of the public doesn’t understand Facebook’s business model. If you don’t understand the business model then you don’t really know what’s happening I guess. So, and I can’t change that. I can’t, well, unless this video goes viral because the memes are so good. So what I’m saying is that there’s profound, it’s a complicated system, it’s a complicated environment. It’s technology that is literally out of control. Like it is a publishing platform gone crazy. You can’t expect people to understand it. I didn’t, I am a perfectly savvy, competent person who four years ago was a complete ignoramus when it came to publishing on Facebook. You don’t, most people are not editors, but when you’re on Facebook you’re a content producer, you’re an editor, and you’re a publisher. Now I think that people don’t necessarily really understand that role, and I, for years I didn’t and I am an educated, I have a college education, I work in the media, it’s a complicated idea. In fact, my father back in, my father was an English professor at the University of Maine for 40 plus years. Very well read person. He also did editing for scholarly magazines. And I told him in 2009, in 2009 I said, I came home and I was like. “Dad, there’s this global publishing platform. “It’s called Facebook and here’s how it works.” And he’s like, or maybe 2008 or something like that, and he’s like, “Well how does it work?” And I was like, “Well, I can write something “and then it automatically publishes what I’m saying “and anyone in the world can see it.” And this is a guy who understood publishing like, he understood publishing in an innate way, the power of publishing. This is a man who his entire life read books. He read “Moby Dick” 30 times, and I’m not exaggerating. It was his favorite book but he read it 30 times. So he was a professor of modern American literature. And his immediate response was, “That’s not a good idea.” He said, “That is not a good idea.” And at the time, me, being the hyped up ignoramus that I was, young me, which I wasn’t even that young. But looking back at my level of naivete, I was very young, I was like, oh my dad’s just being stodgy. He’s like, he doesn’t think the hoi polloi should have access to publishing. No, what he understood is that a democratized human nature without any kind of constraints– – But doesn’t Facebook block certain content? I mean, there’s, I mean they have constraints like if you have – absolutely they block– – Too many words in your ad or something like that, it’ll stop it, so is there things in place that? – Absolutely, there’s a ton of things in place that are blocking, that’s blocking content on Facebook. But here’s the issue. There is, you can write outrageous things that divide people in half and completely comply with the terms of service and rock the algorithm on Facebook. There’s nothing, there’s no rules against it. You can create crazy content that divides people, and that’s the best kind of content to publish. So there’s always an incentive from now into the future forever to create divisive content because that is what sells. It’s tabloid media. – And there’s a lot of people out there, like influencers for instance. There’s people making a very lucrative living on social media just because they’re gaining following, and they’re pushing content, they’ve got advertisers. But I think, and this is just one man’s opinion, but I think that some people don’t realize, like those people may realize their privacy’s gone. They know anything they put out the world is gonna see, they’re gonna be tracked, but I think that there may be a select few people that when they’re putting out content they don’t realize how it’s being used, and I think maybe, is that, would you agree with something like that? – That’s a really good point. The issue that you’re getting at here is that, is what I call default publishing. So people are forced… In order to create events on Facebook, Facebook turns everyone into a default publisher. So you can’t just connect directly to other people, right? You have to do it through this publishing process that where in the back of your mind you’re like, oh, my 758 connections, I need to make lowest common denominator not to trigger anyone, and that’s all media publishing stuff, you’re just internalizing it and you’re editing yourself to become a two, a two-dimensional persona. Mark Zuckerberg is on record saying that he wanted people to have only a single persona in all situations. He was literally trying to flatten people into his social media platform. He said it’s dishonest to not present yourself to every single person you know in the exact same way. We’re 100% the opposite direction. We’re saying in, you’re a different person at church, you’re a different person at the bar. – So we’re on the topic of, and with Facebook we’ve seen it evolve over the years. I mean, when it started from the dorm room where Mark Zuckerberg was to where it is now. – [Tobin] The dorm room of the world? – Yeah, right, well– – The dorm room we’re all forced into? – Right, so, but let’s talk about the F8 conference, right? So he spoke, he spoke about the new privacy concerns and everything that happened before, and he’s talking about end-to-end encryption. So let’s talk a little bit about, so what do you think about that? What do you think the future of Facebook is from the here on now? And now they know that that’s what they’re focusing on. They’re focusing on the fake news and the privacy. So what are your thoughts on that? – Well the news they can never deal with. I mean, they’re stuck in a two billion person publishing platform, and outrageous content is not against the terms, outrageous content is not against the terms of service of Facebook, okay? So that you can expect to continue. Division, publishing division, you can expect to continue. Now regarding privacy, Mark Zuckerberg is doing a two-pronged fake privacy push. What is he, encryption is the shiny beads he’s dangling in exchange for our private Manhattans. He’s saying, here, take the encryption beads. Currently Facebook data mines WhatsApp, which is an encrypted platform. They don’t actually data mine the words you’re writing. They data mine everything around it and take the information, they suck that data out of WhatsApp and serve you ads on Facebook, on Instagram based on what you’re privately doing that you think that you’re not being monitored on WhatsApp. He wants to extend that to all of his platforms where he gives you the impression of privacy in order to be an even more effective data miner. Because if I think that I’m not being spied on I’ll be more honest. If I’m more honest, then I have better quality data, right? – Interesting. – And to take it, so that’s his first prong, and then the second prong, to hedge against a breakup of Facebook and to create what’s called clean data where your profile on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, are all known to be the same human person. It’s called clean data and it can be, what Mark Zuckerberg rents data out. He says, “I don’t sell your data.” No, he rents your data continuously forever to advertisers. – Okay, so clearly you’ve learned a lot of this stuff working with social media and obviously you have a stance on privacy concerns. So, this inspired USpace. So why don’t you kinda talk a little bit about the product that you created and– – So I had these two issues, and I was like, I’m connected but all of this media publishing and the structure of Facebook is basically just in the way of my relationships. It’s devaluing them. So I’m like how do I connect with people in a way that doesn’t have these negative effects. I’m like, it’s 2000, at the time it was 2017, I’m like it’s 2017, why am I being forced into this publishing world just to connect with the people I like? It made no sense. The technology needs to exist for me to correct, connect directly. So the way I look at it is the problem is that media has artificially, for financial reasons, and for activity reasons, here’s person A, here’s person B, and there’s this big media thing happening in the middle that we’re all forced into and that’s a barrier to real connections. So I was like, well, why can’t we create a private network that is not a publishing network where we get our name unpublished space, USpace, why can’t we create a network that just removes the big media problem and then you have one to one connection. USpace is not super complicated. It’s just removing this hugely problematic publishing. – Does that end-to-end encryption? – Oh yeah, it’s end-to-end encryption. We do not data mine. There’s no ads on it. Our monetization model is not, is not directly related to users. The app is one time purchase for $5. You can access it at unpublished.space. We have a web app that’s mobile optimized. You can access it from anywhere in the world on a free mobile app. And it’s just a better… There’s no algorithm filter. There’s a newsfeed that shows you each individual post. You can monitor all of these, each user has private rooms that you either host or you’re a guest in. The newsfeed monitors all of that. You have a one-to-one connection with each user. – [Chris] That’s encrypted. – Yes, everything’s encrypted. The shiny beads are there. – The shiny beads are there. – The shiny beads are there but even better, we’re not data mining you. We’re giving you the shiny beads and we’re actually giving you, you get to keep your island of Manhattan as well. We’re giving you the entire, we’re giving you your privacy. So everything’s encrypted now. It’s like, to say whatever’s encrypted is, it’s like saying there’s now air to breathe in the world, or something, like in the digital world of communications, encryption’s pretty common at this point. So, I think that we need to back up for a second and just talk about how connections are made, because part of what makes this platform completely different is that, is that the way in which you connect safeguards your privacy. And it ensures that the people that you connect with are known to you in real life. Bots have no chance to connect with you. You cannot be stalked on this platform. No one can search this platform. It’s unsearchable. There’s no search function. The developers created a screen for search because every, because that’s what they do. I said, “What is this for?” And they said, “So that you can search the platform.” I said, just like I told our lawyer, I said, “Throw it out.” Just like I told our lawyer, our privacy lawyer, he’s like puts in provisions automatically for data mining. I’m like, I’m literally gonna pay you $600 an hour to remove those things. So, you can’t be searched on it. No can discover whether or not you are on the platform in the first place. The only time I know that you are on the platform, Chris, is when I send an invitation to your platform email and then you get back to me and confirm that you’re on the platform. Up until that point, I have no idea if you’re on the platform. I have no idea if I have the right email. It’s entirely private. It’s called, it’s a proprietary system that I designed for connecting. It’s called Advanced Permission Design, APD. And APD is how we guarantee that you will have no bots, you will have, any stalker, we’re more private than WhatsApp. We’re more private than, they’re pulling real phone numbers off your phone. You’re getting subscribed to groups. – So on your platform, in order for someone to connect you really do need to know that person and have their email address to send them a request, is that? – Yes. – So there’s no way you can find? So you can’t just search for anybody on there. – There is zero way to search and find anyone on the platform. Right, yes, and also once you’re connected you can’t see who they’re connected to. I can’t see your friends– – Like their friends. – Yeah, I could have two connections or I could have 2,000 connections. You don’t know because my connections are my business. I’m connected to you, but that’s all you know. And then I can host a room with you and other connections, and then you would know that they’re my connections, but only in a hosted room space, like the production of this video we could have a room just for C Level. And we could all have that conversation and then that pops up in your notifications. Here’s the C Level stuff and then my conversation, my search for housing with Rachel is on the same feed, but the only person that knows any of this is me. It’s totally private to me. But I can monitor my entire life discretely. – So, the type of user, I mean, number one, it could be someone that really is concerned about privacy, but also, I can see people that work in the business, A list talent and people that really need that secure stuff. They wanna keep their family, or maybe even some of these influencers that they have this whole public thing, but they wanna have some private communications with other people in the business. Like high profile productions and certain things. So I could see the entertainment business utilizing a platform like this. – A celebrity could, a celebrity could completely organize their own personal network on this platform discretely without any downside that I can see. We’re actually, when we’re back into development, we’re gonna create a feature where you can actually turn off incoming notifications entirely. Which is kinda rude, but if you’re a celebrity, and your, let’s say your email address was leaked or something like that. Then you could just turn off the notifications. But, yeah, it’s entirely… This is so secure that a celebrity could definitely have their own personal private network and do all of their business of life. It’s literally for the business of life, and the only reason that’s possible is because we’ve removed publishing. We just took, publishing is the antithesis of getting things done. We as human beings need privacy in order to do our lives. I mean, imagine living in a huge barn with no walls and two billion people in it. That’s what Facebook is. It’s like a gilded cocktail party, nonstop with no walls. We’re offering people a way to choose, to retreat from that environment. We say, keep Facebook, keep Facebook for acquaintance maintenance. Acquaintance maintenance, that’s what Facebook is good for. Keep it. Bring your 10 people to USpace. You don’t need your whole social graph on USpace. You just need the people that you need to coordinate with. – Even like the people, we were talking about before, the influencers that need that public persona, that need that– – Absolutely. – Keep that, keep your revenue comin’, but then have a space, I could see that making sense. – Facebook is around for a long time. Social media isn’t going away. But Mark Zuckerberg has been selling it as this kind of like a place to connect with your family and friends. That’s exactly what it’s not. That’s exactly what Facebook is not good for because it’s a publishing environment. There’s constantly just distraction and garbage around your family and friends. It’s deteriorating the quality of those relationships. That’s why I developed USpace because I was like, I’m connected, technically, but this connection sucks. It’s not making my relationships better. I need to be digitally connected and make my relationships better. A single digital connection on USpace means I have an open direct channel forever. – So, Tobin, tell me how does USpace make life easier? – Our goal as a company is to do the management for you. I look at Google and I say, well, they’re data mining, but at least they solve problems. Gmail solves problems. A lot of the Google products that I use solve things. That’s the kinda company we wanna be. We wanna anticipate solving problems. And I think the first way that we’re solving a problem is removing this huge media like gremlin from between your relationships. That’s a huge problem solving. It’s a major time suck that people have to deal with this media publishing. – Whatever side you stand on, whether you dislike social media or you’re concerned about privacy, I think the biggest thing and one of the reasons why I like having individuals like you on is you’re innovating, you’re seeing things that need to be fixed, and you’re leading the way in coming up with new ideas, becoming a founder, and I wish you the best of luck with USpace and I really appreciate you . – The way I look at it is we’re a slow cooker. We’re on the slow burn because it’s one of these things that once you, as you get tired, as you get exhausted it’s those few connections will start building into more interactions, and the more as you find USpace useful over time, that’s how we’re going to build, that’s how we’re going to build our network. And I’m perfectly okay wit that. The way I look at it is this, people are burned out on social media, right? We’ve created social, that’s social 1.0, we’ve created social 2.0, the private social network. It’s the natural evolution of social networks. I think that we are in the right place at the right time. – That’s cool, well I appreciate you being innovative and seeing gaps in the marketplace and starting this thing and hopefully solving it, solving an issue. – Thank you, thanks for having me, Chris. – Yeah, thanks, Tobin. – It’s been a pleasure. – [Chris] Hey guys, thanks for tuning into the episode, and if you guys enjoyed it, show some love, give me a thumbs up and subscribe. Also, make sure you check out our exclusive C Level group on Facebook.
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