Social media is a fraught business. At best, companies such as Facebook help us to stay in touch, share ideas, and even make a living. At worst, they are rentiers of human emotion, manipulating our basest needs to bombard us with ads. But amid necessary debates over hate speech and data harvesting, echo chambers and addiction, a new class of social media companies is emerging: one that looks beyond the old, extractive models to imagine another set of possibilities. Herewith, 10 upstarts that have delighted us, surprised us, and proved there’s still space for innovation in the social media universe.
For designing an AI-fueled infrastructure that makes sure digital content creators reap appropriate royalties
From its inception, the internet has been a battleground over intellectual property. Memes, remixes, and dance videos are the lifeblood of a digital culture that lives in fear of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice. But original content creators need to eat, too. Pex plays the mediator by using AI to scan the web for rights-holders’ content, allowing them to negotiate licensing with platforms. The royalty attribution startup earns money by coordinating these deals, but its underlying mission is more expansive: to establish a market for a largely unregulated strata of the internet economy. In 2020, it leveled up its Attribution Engine with the acquisition of Dubset, a music tech startup that has fingerprinted more than 45 million tracks.