Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Anybeat Is a Social Network for People You Don’t Know (Yet)

A new service called Anybeat looks and acts like existing social networks and has many of the same features. But there are a couple key differences: Pseudonyms are allowed and almost all activity is public.

Anybeat aims to be “the evolution of the original Myspace” — a public gathering place for interacting with people you don’t know, according to Dmitry Shapiro, the former Myspace executive who founded the site.

Shapiro described Anybeat in an interview as an online community that “is in some ways the polar opposite of a social network” of existing connections. The site fits into a category I’ve been exploring lately: Social discovery services.

Anybeat, which is launching a limited beta later today, has a startling number of features — maybe too many! — for a brand-new product that was developed by a team of just seven people. There are the standard profiles and photo albums, a directory of all members and their interests, a live-updating activity feed, unified comment threads when a conversation is reshared, groups, questions, saved search alerts, instant messaging and a credibility score system. It’s kind of a grab bag of the latest and greatest in social networking.

One thing that Anybeat does not do? Per its user primer: “Unlike Facebook, Google, or Twitter, we don’t want to be your login credential for other sites. We will not follow you around the web!!!”

Shapiro — who was most recently CTO of Myspace Music, and before that founder and CEO of video site Veoh — earlier this year wrote a manifesto about creating a viable alternative to Facebook, one with better privacy controls. That was after he raised about $1 million to build such a thing, which at the time was called Altly.

Shapiro wrote, “There is clearly nothing wrong with Facebook making money, as all business has to do. What IS clearly wrong is when our privacy, our personal information, our digital lives are being subjugated for the sake of profit, without us having any meaningful capability to opt out, or even know the extent of such activity.”

At this point, though, Anybeat has become less about privacy. Shapiro said this week that Altly had originally developed functionality that was quite similar to Google Circles, but after Google+ launched, the company changed its focus. Now, an important tenet of Anybeat is that it not become a vehicle for personal branding, like so much of the social Web. As such, users are told not to market to each other.

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