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Wikipedia Founder Launches Charitable Social Network in the US

The People’s Operator aims to fix what’s “wrong with the web.”

Rachel Pick

Rachel Pick

Photo: Niccolò Caranti/Wikimedia Commons

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is bringing his new donation-based social network to the US after an earlier launch in his adopted home country, the UK.

The People's Operator is a social network focused on charitable donations and community service, with an interface Wales describes in a brief manifesto as "similar to Twitter, but better." Wales decries the function of most social networks, which "treat [users] as a commodity to be sold to advertisers."

On TPO you can follow causes as well as individuals, receiving updates from charities and nonprofits as they make progress, or if they need contributions. So far, 70 charities have joined, including the World Wildlife Federation and the ASPCA.

TPO is also a mobile service, where users can elect to donate 10% of their monthly cellphone bill to a cause of their choosing. Wales points out the outrageous sums of money mobile carriers spend on advertising, saying that TPO aims to "spend your money on causes that you care about, rather than advertising." In return, Wales asks that you use your personal social media presence to get the word out.

As of May, TPO had about 30,000 users in the UK. It remains to be seen if US consumers will be as comfortable with the concept.