It looks like a streamlined version of Instagram, the Meta-owned app with over a billion monthly active users. But with a very different business model and far fewer people aware of its existence, Supernova is a feel-good app slowly picking up steam.
Launched in 2021, the startup was founded by Dominic O’Meara, a former account supervisor at British advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi who went on to start his own agencies, first in Amsterdam and later, in 2004, in London.
These days, O’Meara’s focus is on a new challenge: his ambitious, purpose-led social network.
“Our aim is to ascend to a 5% share of the global market and give £2B a year to charities, and we are raising the investment now to scale the fantastic results delivered so far,” says O’Meara. The app, available on Google Play and via the Apple Store, pledges to give direct from its advertising revenue to global charities, with the money distributed according to members’ preferences across a pool of subjects.”
So far, human rights causes have received the largest amount of donations (22%), split between three NGOs: Oxfam, UNICEF and Save the Children, a British NGO founded in 1919. Areas such as climate change, animal welfare, mental health and emergency causes have also received part of the total raised to date, with the app users determining which causes get the most money.
“The reaction of the public has been overwhelmingly positive, and increasingly so among younger people, who are starting to embrace it too. We have started to bring Supernova to them through student events like one we held in Edinburgh recently,” O’Meara says. According to the entrepreneur, Supernova’s usage has more than trebled in the last 12 months, and the growth has been entirely organic. “We haven’t paid for this adoption level and we are very proud of that. What you see is real enthusiasm and user support for what we are doing.” Currently, the UK and USA are the key markets for the platform.
To get that 5% share of the global social media market, Supernova is banking on kindness to fill a void left by major social media platforms, which have historically thrived on conflict and clickbait.
“Folks don’t join Supernova to create a toxic environment. They leave other networks to escape a toxic environment. By virtue of our core proposition, we avoid on entry many of the key problems other networks have created for themselves. They simply have not asked, motivated, encouraged or rewarded their communities to be – above all else – positive, kind, and respectful to one another. They haven’t led by clear example and so their communities have been left to figure out behavioural codes for themselves and to some extent have been taken over by a toxic, ‘noisy’ minority,” says O’Meara, who believes Supernova “represents the silent majority that wants social media to be a positive force in the world.”
That positive outcome is the result of a high amount of moderation involving AI, users and computer science grads and undergrads hired to keep political comments or side-taking of any kind off the site – Twitter users certainly would feel out of place with the overload of content featuring flowers, sunsets and cute animals on Supernova.
“We involve our community, who are moderators in our Groups feature, too. One in every 100 group of members must be a moderator, and although we also moderate Groups this helps share the task.”
The herculean work seems to be paying off, though.
“With tens of millions of content impressions so far served, the number of infringements of our Charter, Community Standards or Terms and Conditions are effectively 0%. Any and all are removed instantly. That’s a high bar but it’s one we are determined to maintain as we believe it’s essential for the wellbeing of the world’s 5 billion social media users,” says O’Meara.
I tested the Supernova app, on and off, for five weeks.
At first, the app is very similar to other image-led social media platforms such as Vero and Instagram where users can share photographs and videos along with comments and messaging.
Just like the other platforms, users can also follow or be followed, set an account to private, explore topics and block unwanted users.
And because the app is relatively new, the number of ads appearing in between content is still very low when compared to major players. But Supernova has already partnered with Dutch multinational Philips and Japanese sportswear brand ASICS.
However, the lingering question, while scrolling through posts featuring positive quotes and photos of vintage music bands, paradisiac landscapes and baby hippos happily munching snacks in a swimming pool, is: can a place based on good deeds and modelled as an echo-chamber, where current affairs are sifted out via heavy moderation, get enough traction to lure big brands to join the feel-good movement?
With people stepping away from major social media platforms, in part due to a decline in organic reach and reduced engagement, and partly because after months of seeing the world through the lenses of social media between 2020 and 2021, many of us now want a grasp of unfiltered, hashtag-free reality, it is hard to predict Supernova’s future. But if its success rests on its founder’s optimism alone, the social media platform will get there.
“From where we are today, making Supernova happen is actually pretty straightforward. I knew it was the right time to launch Supernova the moment I thought of it,” says O’Meara, who came up with the app while running cross country around Surrey Hills, England. “I know it has a huge future ahead.”
World’s Youth for Climate Justice receives Carnegie Peace Prize
This week the international youth organization ‘World’s Youth for Climate Justice’ has been awarded the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize at the Peace Palace. The global youth movement received the prize for its dedicated efforts in fighting climate change by means of international law and for advocating climate justice.
“The link between climate change and peace might not be the first one that comes to mind. However, it is a strong one. Consequences of climate change include an increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, more frequent floods, wildfires and drought, that can lead to food insecurity, destruction of land and livelihood, and increased displacement – factors that foster conflict”, said Quint van Velthoven and Marijn Vodegel, from World’s Youth for Climate Justice, during their winner’s speech.
The event took place at the Great Hall of Justice, Hague, Netherlands, normally used as courtroom for the United Nations International Court of Justice, where more than 120 students, diplomats and representatives of international organizations gathered on December, 7th.
Jan van Zanen, mayor of The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, concluded the ceremony by underlining how important it is for young people’s voices to be heard: “Especially on a topic directly related to the future of today’s young people and generations to come. Young people should be at the table, locally, nationally and internationally.”
The Carnegie Foundation, owner and manager of the Peace Palace, and the Youth Peace Initiative award the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize every two years in order to garner best practices from young individuals or youth-led organizations and to put them in the spotlight. The prize recognizes the work of young peacebuilders and aims to encourage others to start their own projects.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna wins 2024 Access City Award
The Spanish city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna has received the 2024 Access City Award, for its comprehensive approach to accessibility and its improvement of the quality of life of people with disabilities.
The city has prioritised the accessibility of persons with disabilities across urban spaces, transportation systems, and social activities.
Some of the improvements in San Cristóbal de La Laguna includes all vehicles and all stations of the city’s tram network being fully accessible. And the city centre has acoustic traffic lights and tactile paving to guide visually impaired people.
In 2021, the municipality launched the Orange Point, a mobile space with resources for inclusive and accessible events. Orange Point provides sign language interpreters, anti-noise systems, and trained staff, as well as easy-to-read materials.
The city’s commitment to accessibility also includes the adoption of an institutional declaration for the defence of the rights of persons with disabilities to promote positive actions in this area. In addition, a disability council and an ombudsman for people with disabilities have been created.
Accessible spaces, both physical and digital, are a crucial first step towards achieving equality. Around 87 million people in the EU have a disability.
The city of Łódź (Poland) was awarded thesecond-place prize for implementing comprehensive standards of accessibility to guide all municipal investments, and the city of Saint-Quentin (France) won the third place for improving accessibility of the city’s public transport network.
EU journalism prize awarded for investigation into migrant boat shipwreck
A Greek, German and British consortium has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigating the Adriana shipwreck, which left over 600 migrants dead off Pylos in Greece.
The joint investigation by the Greek investigative outlet Solomon, in collaboration with Forensis, the German public broadcaster StrgF/ARD, and the British newspaper The Guardian revealed how the deadliest migrant shipwreck in recent history happened as a result of the actions taken by the Greek Coast Guard. It also reveals inconsistencies in the Greek authorities’ official accounts.
Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno, Vice-President responsible for the Prize, and Juliane Hielscher, President of the Berlin Press Club and representative of the 28 members of the independent European-wide Jury, participated in the award ceremony held in the Daphne Caruana Galizia Press Room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“Today, as every year, we honour Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memory with a prize that is a powerful reminder of her fight for truth and justice. Journalists around the world continue to be targeted just for doing their job, but they refuse to be silenced. This Parliament stands by their side in this long-standing battle to safeguard press freedom and media pluralism in Europe and beyond”, said Metsola.
When accepting the prize on behalf of the winning consortium, Iliana Papangeli of Solomon said: “The fatal event has forced us to confront questions about so-called European values and where the EU really stands on protecting human life – regardless of passport, ethnicity, race, gender, disability, or class. This joint investigation showed how violent and restrictive EU migration policies are, ultimately leading to a massive loss of life”.
Between 3 May and 31 July 2023, more than 700 journalists from the 27 EU countries submitted their stories for consideration. Twelve of these submissions were shortlisted by the jury before the overall winner was decided.
About the winning story
The investigation took an in-depth look into the events surrounding the loss of the fishing trawler Adriana on 14 June this year some 50 nautical miles off Pylos, in south-western Greece, killing over 600 migrants who had left Libya some days earlier.
Over 20 interviews were made with survivors, and court documents and coastguard sources were looked into. The findings detail missed rescue opportunities and offers of assistance that were ignored, whereas the survivors’ testimonies indicate that it was the attempts by the Greek coastguard to tow the trawler that ultimately caused its sinking. The Greek coastguard denied that it attempted to tow the trawler.
The fateful night was simulated by Forensis using interactive 3D modelling of the trawler thanks to data from the coastguard’s log and testimony of the coast guard vessel’s captain, as well as from flight paths, maritime traffic data, satellite imagery and videos taken by nearby shipping vessels and other sources.
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