While you can talk about politics, religion, and socially important news on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, they aren't always the best places to do so. These hot-button subjects can cause arguments, or one's opinion may be completely at odds with a relative's view, and who wants to stir up trouble like that when there are cat pictures to share? If you're keen to have a discussion about these topics, but don't want to use the normal social channels, you'll want Roust, the new invitation-only social network where discourse is welcomed.
"Facebook has become a place for staying connected with friends, family, co-workers, customers, and employees. With social connections as diverse as the ones on Facebook, it is difficult and risky to take a stance on any political, or religious issues. Yet these conversations are important to have," founder Mark LaFay explained to Digital Trends. LaFay hopes that with Roust, he has created an outlet where people can connect and be inspired to take action.
To get started with Roust, you'll need to create an account. Once you're up and running, there is a Facebook-like news feed, but it highlights current stories on politics, religion, and socially important news. As of our review, some of the trending topics on Roust include Ashley Madison being hacked, coverage on Donald Trump's campaign, and Chick-Fil-A. The option is there to share articles and upload images, plus Like and comment on other posts. When your friends are members of Roust, you can exchange private messages.
So far, so familiar. However, the big feature that stands out in Roust is the dislike button. While the dislike button would cause controversy on other major social networks, Roust welcomes it. If you disagree with something -- and let's face it, with these subjects, that's definitely going to happen -- you can slap a dislike on the post. Imagine the satisfaction.
Development won't stop there. When asked about what other features Roust will get in the future, LaFay responded, "Right now, we are focused on building out the foundation of the site, and then we will start adding features that revolve around content discoverability, privacy, moderation, and gamification." Given that Roust is likely to have more than its fair share of heated debate, perhaps the gamification aspect will be based around losing friends and causing arguments?
A Pew Research study found that 39 percent of adults engage in political conversations on social networking sites, while 18 percent of social networking site users have blocked, hidden, or unfriended someone for posting too many political subjects they disagreed with or found offensive.
Roust will give those who are into political debates a place to say what's on their mind, and in theory not bother those who don't care with their firm opinions. LaFay is convinced that there's a gap in the market for Roust to fill. However, all this makes it sound like a breeding ground for trolls and bullies, so what measures are being taken to avoid it becoming a hate-filled nightmare?
Roust encourages people to dive into deep topics, and LaFay wants members to debate and challenge each other. However, there is an administration team that will take action in the event of threats, or if any illegal activity is spotted. There's also the option for users to flag up inappropriate content.
LaFay is keen to ensure everyone knows what they're getting into when joining Roust.
"Yes, you can talk politics on Facebook," he said, "But you will have a better experience doing so with Roust because it's catered toward an opt-in discussion and therefore sets expectations. I equate what we are doing to the evolution in online dating sites. You could go to Match.com and check a box that will only match you with Christians. Or, you can go to ChristianMingle.com because the platform is built specifically for Christian relationships."
Click here to request an invitation to Roust social network.