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True App takes on Facebook, promises no ads or tracking


People talk about being sick of Twitter and Facebook all the time, but really, what’s the alternative?

A new app called True might just be what some users are looking for.

It’s a slick looking app that lets you connect with friends, family, and groups but with no ads, no tracking, and no fees.

It almost sounds too good to be, well, true.

“This is the Facebook replacement that is safe for your family and good for your friends,” said Bret Cox, CEO of San Francisco based True.

He recently met up with me in Santa Monica to assure me that the app is a good replacement for traditional social media apps.

True is well designed and I appreciate that it works equally well on both iOS and Android.

The app feels bright and cheery.

It mixes the sharing aspect of Facebook but with the convenience of group messaging. It’s all private by default.

“This idea that I’m going to share my family’s information my family’s pictures and so forth in a public default sharing system just felt wrong,” explained Cox, who is a tech veteran who has built various successful software companies over the years.

True makes it really easy to sign up with just your phone number. Once you’re in, you can build groups called Threads. These could be filled with family, friends, co-workers or a group you’re a part of; say, your gardening or kids’ sports team, for example.

In here, you can post photos, videos, GIFs, text and links. You can even set a lifespan for a post so it automatically expires in a day or a week. You don’t have too, but it’s neat to have this option.

True is way better than group text messaging because it works the same cross-platform. No need to worry about blue or green bubbles or whether a video will come through that’s too low resolution to enjoy.

The app’s big promise is that it doesn’t collect or sell personal information and it won’t track you.

“It’s possible to use True for the rest of your life and never see an ad,” said Cox.

That’s a big promise, so I challenged him on it a bit. Cox clarified that the way the app will make money is by offering optional premium features you can buy and by selling keyword-based ads on public groups, but only if the owner of those groups enable them.

So far, the pitch for True sounded pretty good. I wanted to get the opinion of someone else who has tried the app.

I rang up Kali Hays, a social media reporter for Insider, who also wrote a piece on True.

“I think we’re in a period right now with social media in general where users are much more open to experimentation,” said Hays, who was also positive about the app.

She believes the time is right for new apps like True to come along and disrupt established players.

“A lot of them I think probably won’t work out, but I think a couple of them probably will. Like, in the next 2 to 5 years we might see a new social media platform that might take off that people really like,” said Hays.

My take: I love look, feel, design and functionality of True. It might not be as full featured as Facebook, but it has most of what you need for posting and sharing. It would definitely make a great replacement for most group texts and sharing among friends and family. However, the trickiest part of the process might be twofold: getting your friends and family to sign up and use the app, and also having enough people on the app to make it worth using on a regular basis.

If True can find enough converts, it might work as a smaller Facebook substitute.

“We said, you know can we build a system that gets back to these things that matter, which is friends and family without commercial interruption, and true was born out of that,” concluded Cox.

I created a RichOnTechies group inside True, so if you want to check out the app and join me there, here’s the link.


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