Rio Ferdinand backs revolutionary new positive social media platform that PAYS its users

Rio Ferdinand is concerned World Cup players will again be the targets of racist abuse (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)
Rio Ferdinand is concerned World Cup players will again be the targets of racist abuse (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Rio Ferdinand is encouraging football fans and those who want to make the world a better place to join a revolutionary new positive social media platform – where users get paid to watch ads.

The decorated former England defender, 45, exclusively told The Independent that change is needed now more than ever, especially ahead of this year’s Euros.

Ferdinand has described WeAre8 as “the answer” to the “bad behaviours” that are becoming all too common on social media platforms like Twitter (X) and TikTok.

When shooting a documentary about sexuality, racism and mental health in football, Ferdinand repeatedly discovered that social media was a driving force behind all three issues.

“Social media kept popping up as one of the big issues and reasons for a lot of depression, suicides, and bad behaviours,” he said.

“I started talking to the big social media platform companies about how and why they didn’t try squash all of this, but there wasn’t an answer.

 (The Drum)
(The Drum)

“When I got to the government, [they mentioned] the Online Harms Bill, [but] it still isn’t right. Then I met Zoe, the founder of WeAre8, and within two minutes, I was like ‘This is the answer.’

“Normally when you’ve got a bad situation or something’s not going right, you can always find an alternative, but there wasn’t one for social media until now.”

WeAre8 is a social media platform that allows users to scroll content in a similar way to TikTok and Twitter (X), but unlike these platforms, it only allows positive content on the algorithm.

It also has a separate ‘Friends’ feed so that you can keep up with those you know while still interacting with news and your favourite creators on what’s known as the ‘8Stage’.

Unlike other platforms where endless scrolling is encouraged, WeAre8 ideally wants users to spend just eight minutes a day on their platform and leave feeling inspired to go about their lives in the real world – although it can be used for longer.

Amazingly, it is paying people to use the platform – with money earned from ads users choose to watch added to an online wallet, where it can be withdrawn or donated to a good cause.

There is no space for hate – or the anonymity that perpetuates it – on WeAre8 and users have to sign up using their real names; although they can choose more anonymous usernames.

Users cannot post harmful or discriminatory content either thanks to complex AI, which provides anyone who does try to violate its terms with a warning and, if needed, a ban.

This is something that Ferdinand can get behind as a victim of racist abuse himself and having witnessed the abuse players of colour faced after the Euros 2020.

Zoe Kalar, 56, the platform’s founder, said she wanted to take the money social media makes for tech billionaires out of their hands and put it back into that of users.

And fundamentally create a social media platform that makes people feel good instead of bad.

“My background has always been building tech and growing teams to tackle big problems. Meta took $135 billion in ad revenue last year.

“The money that they were taking was destroying publishing, local news and other really critical social constructs.

“I saw a real injustice in that we the people are the largest unpaid workforce in human history for companies like Meta.

“At the time I began work on WeAre8, 37 percent of Americans couldn’t find $400 in an emergency. I think that number is 80 percent now.

“The current technology isn’t built to support humanity, but WeAre8 is.”

Even the video content posted to WeAre8 is scanned by technology for hate and inappropriate content.

Zoe said the platform’s name is inspired by the infinity sign – which looks like an eight – as she believes that humanity has the potential to do infinite good when people comes together.

“We want to people to be able ask questions and have really difficult questions on the platform, but from a place of respect,” she said.

When asked about the financial side of the app, Zoe explained that users are limited to watching eight ads a day and can expect to earn around a pound a day for their time.

The app’s emphasis on giving back to society has so far led to a surprising 54 percent of users paying forward the money to a charity so far.

To help turn people away from existing, potentially toxic platforms, WeAre8 has now launched its Blow the Whistle campaign, which is encouraging football fans to take a stand against racism in football - on and off the pitch.

They also hope that by creating a safe online platform, fans and players alike will be able to interact without fear of the consequences.

Ferdinand and Zoe are hoping to herald a social media revolution (The Drum)
Ferdinand and Zoe are hoping to herald a social media revolution (The Drum)

Ferdinand added: “This is a place where you can come to be educated about racism and different forms of discrimination.

“Some prominent figures within the game and fans are already putting their content on the platform, including myself.

“Now, I’m not saying to everybody you have to come off every other platform, we just want people to know you won’t leave WeAre8 feeling judged – and you won’t see stuff that you don’t want to see.”

Ferdinand told The Independent: “I come from a life where everyone needs help to get forward and make something of themselves.

“It’s very rare, if ever, that someone just does it on their own.

“The Rio Ferdinand Foundation has reached over 10,000 young people in the last ten years, but we can’t scale bigger without the help of someone like WeAre8.

“Being on that platform and watching adverts on that platform, has the ability to help so many different communities.

“I can now scroll to enjoy content and have an impact as well.”