Aligned Social is a social networking platform that was created to help people connect with themselves and others in a healthier, more meaningful way. The platform was co-founded by Cassandra Shuck, who recognized the negative impact of social media on people’s mental health and well-being, and wanted to create a platform that prioritized wellness, community, and authenticity. Aligned Social aims to set itself apart from other social media platforms by helping users find the connections they need, the events they want to attend, and the people they want to chat with and connect with before leaving the platform, ultimately spending no more than 30 minutes on the app. In this feature, we’ll explore the story behind Aligned Social, what sets it apart from other social networking platforms, how it fosters positive connections, and the ways in which it prioritizes user safety and privacy.
Please share the story behind Aligned Social: What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
The idea for Aligned Social started out of sheer frustration with what social media is currently doing to the collective. In my childhood, I often felt alone and like I was the only one experiencing what I did. I noticed that social media is perpetuating the same feeling for everyone. Despite the vanity metrics showing otherwise, people feel like they’re on their own path, disconnected from others. They feel like they have no friends or connections, and this disconnection is only increasing with time.
The algorithms and ads on social media constantly encourage people to look outside of themselves, to seek help elsewhere. They don’t focus on the inward or wellness journey, leading to disassociation and disembodiment. I noticed this trend in 2021 when we were at the peak of the COVID pandemic, and people were spending an average of five to six hours per day on social media. At the same time, the metaverse was being talked about, and it was another way to push people further away from their bodies and into an unsafe, unhealthy technological realm.
Aligned Social sparked from this realization, and we aim to create a platform that helps people connect with themselves and others in a healthier, more meaningful way. We believe that social media can be a force for good and that it’s possible to create a platform that prioritizes wellness, community, and authenticity.
What sets Aligned Social apart from other social networking platforms currently on the market?
Our ultimate goal is to have users on and off social in about 30 minutes, without spending a mass amount of time. We aim to help users find the connections they need, the events they want to attend, and the people they want to chat with and connect with, before leaving the platform. Our revenue model is not based on ads, unlike Facebook and Meta, which rely on ads for 99% of their revenue. Our goal is to get users back into connection, embodiment, and presence.
When logging in, users are asked to state their intention, how long they want to spend on the platform, and are presented with an embodiment screen. Our AI is programmed to do what’s called a soft disengagement, so as the time clock winds down, users feel the desire to get off social media. In contrast, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s data scientists try to keep users captive for longer by pumping more dopamine through them.
Originally, when this project started, we had one solution: to burn the entire social media paradigm down and start from scratch. There was nothing worth fixing, as the foundation was shoddy. The other issue is that there’s no way to change likes and preferences on Facebook without manually going through and disconnecting people. Many people don’t have the bandwidth to do this, so they follow the same content from college, their 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. This creates a compiling effect, and as per the principle of shamanism, we digest everything we consume. The body can’t digest the sheer amount of content we consume on social media, and it gets stuck in our aura and energetic field.
To address this, we teach people how to purge their list and naturally clear their connections every month or every couple of months, just like spring cleaning. We remind users to release or continue to stay aligned with those they haven’t engaged with for 90 days, instead of letting it pile up.
One of the unique features of the Aligned Social App is the focus on fostering positive connections and relationships between users. How do you facilitate this sense of community and encourage users to engage with one another in meaningful ways?
One of the biggest challenges we see on social media today, especially on platforms like Twitter, is the desire for two opposing viewpoints to be pitted against each other without any sense of humanity or respect for one another. This creates a toxic environment and leads to increased time spent on social media.
To address this, we have developed an innovative way to showcase controversial topics with opposing viewpoints on a discussion forum that emphasizes the humanity and the why behind each perspective. Our belief is that we don’t learn and grow in an echo chamber, and by exposing ourselves to different viewpoints and understanding the reasoning behind them, we can start to question our own beliefs and expand our perspectives.
Through this approach, we aim to facilitate positive connections and relationships between users by infusing our AI technology with more humanity and empathy. This not only fosters meaningful engagement but also encourages personal growth and development.
In recent years, there has been growing concern about the negative impacts of social media on mental health and well-being. How does the Aligned Social App address these concerns, and how do you prioritize user safety and privacy?
We have a strict no-trust policy and do not sell user data to any big tech company, nor do we anonymize and sell it. Our business model does not include any such practices. Additionally, our platform is opt-in. Unlike social media, where users have to opt-out of certain features, on our platform, you have to opt-in to use our AI and other features. We prioritize user choice and transparency.
We have dismantled the traditional way of liking and replaced it with a single Hype button that conveys support and empathy. This eliminates confusion over the meaning of different emotions such as celebrating or expressing sadness. We also do not display any numbers associated with likes, so users do not feel compelled to follow the herd mentality and engage with content they don’t genuinely want to.
We have implemented a Multi-Tiered Support System (MTSS) to combat cyberbullying. The MTSS includes APIs that detect cyberbullying, suicide watch, and mental health issues by identifying specific keywords. We have a list of around 15,000 such words, and our system flags them and provides resources in real-time. We have a parallel universe for users aged 13-18, as many do not want to be on Facebook, which they view as their parents’ platform. This sub-tier incorporates all the same principles and features as our main platform, but it is geared towards a younger audience.
We are also excited to introduce a Creator Fund that encourages users to engage with creative arts and music, which is a welcome change from the influencer culture that dominates social media. Our ultimate goal is to teach users how to use social media and technology appropriately and promote digital wellness. We have developed a platform that prioritizes user safety and privacy, and we strive to create a collective and individual benefit that goes beyond the interests of big tech companies.
Chené is a dynamic content writer especially interested in MarTech and digital marketing. Residing in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, South Africa, her interests include being active in the outdoors, exploring the city and connecting with others.