From Left

From Left

Fighting Facebook — Parksville man part of company developing new social media network

'Kube' founders say focussing on privacy is their main goal

A former Parksville city councillor is taking on Facebook. Peter Morrison is working with brothers Michael and Ian Reid to build a better social network called Kube.

Describing themselves as the “not evil Facebook,” they formed Red Scotch Software less than two years ago and are almost ready for their public unveiling.

Based in Nanaimo, the brothers started the company to figure out what to do with web-based technology they’d been developing in their previous company.

“We’d developed a piece of software that was able to build social networks really, really fast,” said CEO Ian. “We weren’t initially totally clear on what to do with that.”

But privacy quickly became their main goal and before they knew it they were developing what they believe is a unique “private decentralized encrypted social network,” very different from existing networks.

“Most Internet companies don’t treat users as customers, they treat them as the product,” said Michael, head of sales and marketing. He explained that while people can choose what to share with their friends on existing social networks, the companies themselves own the data.

“The part we have a problem with is how the information’s being used on the back end by these companies,” Ian said.

On Kube, people will still be able to share whatever information they want, but “the information contained should be that user’s information, the user owns the information, it’s their information, not our information,” he said of the fundamental difference.

“They can be as public or as private as they want. The user has privacy, which really means the user has control over what they want to share,” Ian said, pointing out that while people think they are making those choices on Facebook, “you’re not private from the company.”

“I haven’t had a Facebook account forever and I wanted to go and take a look at it,” said Michael of a recent experiment. “I used a fake user name and a fake birthdate and I put it into a mode where it couldn’t see anything about my computer, but Facebook was still able to accurately profile exactly who I was.”

“It knew everything about me to a pretty frightening degree of accuracy. That is something a lot of people aren’t aware of, and it’s something we see as being a big problem.”

“Who can see and use that data needs to be in the hands of the owner, not in the hands of the company.”

And so they built Kube from the ground up to be all about user privacy, based more on peer to peer type networking, explaining they “authenticate the user, blindly, so we don’t know who they are and then they can connect directly to other users. We don’t have to actually see any of the things they share or their relationships, we just facilitate the capacity to connect directly with other users.”

People can even sign up without the company knowing who they are, and beyond privacy it’s unusual decentralized model makes it very secure.

“The majority of the Internet is based on centralized data,” Ian explained. All of the information entered into Facebook goes into giant central servers controlled by them, which they secure, but if anything goes wrong, the data is all accessible.

He gave the example of the recent hack and exposure of users of the online dating site Ashley Madison.

“We don’t want to say we’re 100 per cent secure, but if there ever is a breach within the Kube system it will only ever be contained to an individual user.”

With such a focus on privacy,

The NEWS asked if there was any fear of people exploiting the network for illegal purposes.

“Privacy isn’t about having something to hide,” Ian said.

“Obviously when you have less capacity for surveillance and that sort of thing people are going to be able to do what they want. We obviously want to do everything we can to stop illegal activity, but we believe in privacy very strongly and we’re supporting that as the main approach.”

Michael said the site will feel familiar to social media users, with news feeds and groups, but they will have more options and give users more ability to customize their experience.

Meanwhile former city councillor and sign shop owner Peter Morrison joined them about a year ago to work on the business development side, working on a crowd funding campaign and the PR and marketing aspects.

“Our business model is a freemium model,” he explained. “To create a network of any size or potential, we need to be able to provide 100 per cent free access to it.”

He admitted they will lose out on the ability to sell and leverage the data their users provide, a major source of income for most social networks, so they will focus building a powerful user experience through which they can then sell other services.

“In the long term we see a revolution in ad-tech that encourages individual relationships between consumers and the brands they love,” Morrison said. “It will never be a requirement (so it will always be optional), but we are confident we can build a powerful value proposition for both consumers and brands.”

With just two other full-time employees, the company is still in a sort of incubation stage, but has big plans.

They are in alpha mode — accessible only by invitation — and will launch their public beta mode in October, which people can sign up for now.

While they do have big ambitions, they admit Facebook is a serious juggernaut with more than a billion users that they don’t expect to replace.

“We can provide a really great user engagement experience and we’re going to focus on that, even if they’re still on Facebook,” said Michael. “Taking on something like Facebook is a pretty audacious task and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

For more information visit https://kube.is/ or their blog at www.thinkkube.com.

Just Posted

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Most Read