Most social media platforms deter users from creating multiple profiles to prevent shenanigans like harassment and fraud. Galaxia, however, wants people to create a new profile (which it calls a “persona”) for each facet of their identity. Created by photo-sharing network Mobli, the new iOS app (an Android version is in the works) acknowledges that people present different faces to different groups of people.
By letting them do that, Galaxia gives users more opportunities to express themselves–and by doing so, create content that can be monetized.
Mobli founder and chief executive founder Moshe Hogeg is no stranger to social media experiments: he also created Yo, the monosyllabic messaging app that became a viral hit in 2014. Mobli, which currently has about a million active users, was once considered a serious Instagram challenger and added features like direct messaging and location filters before its rival did. The Israeli company, which has raised about $86 million in funding, continues to test out new ideas.
“I’ve been experimenting and exploring the social space for seven years now. We’ve done many, many things in different variations,” Hogeg tells TechCrunch. “We see that social platforms are always an extension of real-life behavior, so we always try to take something in daily life and then answer it with technology.”
Users sign up for Galaxia by creating a main account. Then they make new personas in order to participate in public or private groups (which the platform, in keeping with its theme, calls “worlds”). Each persona is kept completely separate from one another so their information and photos don’t overlap.
This means someone can create a persona to show their work colleagues and then new ones for things they’d rather not share with everyone, like their reborn doll collection or Limp Bizkit obsession, but manage everything with one log-in.
By freeing users from the confines of tailoring all their posts for one audience, Hogeg hopes they will share more things as they flesh out different personas. A constant supply of new posts is, of course, crucial to creating engagement on a social media platform.
“Persona is not necessarily an identity. You can have the same identity and still change personas. The reason we wanted to bring this philosophy to the Internet is that when we use Facebook or Instagram, we have certain personas that we develop over there. We know exactly what our audience likes and doesn’t like and we know oversharing is too much,” says Hogeg.
Posts are uploaded to different worlds instead of a general feed. Each world’s creator can make it public or private and chose who gets to participate. Hogeg hopes this will help Galaxia avoid an epidemic of online harassment, one of the potential pitfalls of letting users make as many anonymous profiles as they want. Bullying plagued Secret before it shutdown last year and is still a problem on other anonymous apps like Yik Yak and Whisper.
Space owners can message users about inappropriate behavior or ban them. If someone keeps using different personas to cause trouble, then they are booted off Galaxia all together.
One of the most important things that sets Galaxia apart from other social media is that it is launching with a monetization plan for power users, something that platforms like Twitter have struggled with. Each world’s creator can charge a fee for entrance or premium features, including exclusive content and direct messaging. Hogeg hopes sharing revenue will allow to Galaxia avoid inserting ads into feeds.
For that strategy to work, however, Galaxia has to gain traction in a world that’s already filled with social media networks. If someone is already juggling accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., then will they want to not only sign up for yet another platform, but also create multiple personas on it?
Other Mobli experiments, like ephemeral messaging app Mirage and real-time image search engine EyeIn, failed to take off (the former was supplanted by Snapchat, while EyeIn shut down after Instagram restricted its API), but Hogeg hopes to give Galaxia sticking power by rolling it out methodically, first to Mobli users. Then its team will analyze how people are using it and figure out what features will keep them interested.
“It’s important when launching an app not to fall in love with something, but instead analyze, optimize, and then decide what to keep,” he says.