Ever wonder what it would be like to experience social media without being bombarded by ads or knowing your data is being sold to advertisers? Or what it would be like for social media to build communities and support creatives instead of prioritizing shareholder profits? We did too, which is why we were so excited to partner with VERO last year and continue their Guardian Level sponsorship at MozFest this year!

MozFest is all about the power of building community and bringing people together - whether in-person or virtually. That is the dream of social media as well - a virtual platform that spurs creativity and breaks down the social, economic, and physical barriers that separate us. Yet, we know that most social media platforms have been just as likely to divide us as to bring us together. We’ve asked Tom Hodgson (www.vero.co/tom), VERO’s Head of Community, to tell us how they are different and why they are so excited to share their vision with the MozFest audience.

What Makes VERO different from other social media companies?

VERO is a social network built on responsible technology principles. We are building technology and a culture to connect people based on shared interests and identities, without the behavioural profiling, surveillance and targeted ads of Big Social.

Our focus is on developing a flourishing online public space for people to connect with others through sharing the things they love - which is the foundation for many of our real life friendships. Our Members are not only in control of what they see in their chronological, ad-free feed, they control access to their content and they grant others access to it. We’re trying to take social media back to its core purpose of bringing people together, not “engaging people” with precision-targeted algorithmically driven content to keep people clicking and scrolling.

This is your second year supporting MozFest, why did you decide to sponsor MozFest again?

We see ourselves as part of a wider ecosystem of responsible technology companies, groups and organizations working towards a healthier internet and we want to learn from - and support - the efforts of those working in different sectors who share our values and belief in the power of technology to bring people together. We have long admired Mozilla’s dedication to providing choice, control and privacy protection to its community through its products and Mozilla’s impact in funding research and fuelling collaboration and innovation in the wider sector. Partnering with MozFest in 2021 was a brilliant experience and we met so many amazing people in a variety of fields and learned so much, we knew we wanted to play a role in the 2022 edition as well!

How are you showing up at MozFest this year?

Firstly, as delegates! There are so many events and discussions we’re looking forward to participating in and people and ideas to get to know more about. We’re also presenting a panel discussion on March 8th, Building Healthier Digital Communities - The Creators’ Challenge”, which we are really excited about.

It’s an opportunity to explore the important role Creators play in building healthy online communities, the challenges they face in doing so, and how they can work together with developers, platforms and community designers to shape healthier online spaces with more focus on - and support for - community building. Our CEO Ayman Hariri will be joined by an all-star panel comprised of award-winning filmmaker Max Joseph, designer, artist and Afrotectopia CEO Ari Melenciano, and writer, chef and blogger Joanne Molinaro (aka The Korean Vegan) - We hope to see you all there!

Pink and blue graphic promoting the 'Building Healthier Digital Communities - The Creators’ Challenge' with heaadshots of the speakers.
What made you choose the topic of building healthy online communities and creators for your broadcast talk?

Creators have played such an important role in driving the growth of online platforms and whilst many have found success and built sustainable careers from them, they also face a lot of challenges. From the riptide of algorithms, changing priorities to the big platforms in terms of the kinds of content that is amplified or minimized, creator burnout or encountering toxic behavior is often a lot to handle. As a creator-friendly platform which seeks to enable more people to support themselves through their creativity, we are always keen to learn from creators so we can build spaces which better serve them and their communities. MozFest seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring together some creators and thought leaders we admire and learn from their experiences.

What are you looking forward to most at MozFest this year?

Meeting new people and learning about all the amazing, interdisciplinary innovations and experiments from people and groups working towards a more humane digital experience!

Anything else you’d like to tell the community?

We hope you can join us on March 8th for the VERO panel and, if you’re interested in learning more about VERO and what we’re about, please visit www.vero.co. You can also find me on the MozFest Slack channel so do say hi!

The greatest social network is the one that already exists between people. VERO’s mission is to make it available online. From design to functionality, VERO are building a truly social network and are redefining what a social network can and should be.

Headshot of a person wearing black coat at night standing in a city.

Jesse works on Mozilla’s Partnerships and Fundraising team where he focuses on growing the Guardian Giving (for individual donors) and MozFest sponsorship program.

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit www.mozillafestival.org.

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