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NewNew app – Pay to control another person’s life

Wouldn’t it feel nice to decide small things for someone you admire just by paying a small fee?It would be elating for many fans that’s for sure!

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”.

What is NewNew and why someone would use it

Recently, when Brandon Wong couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him.

Those who wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll. The majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought.

Mr. Wong, who lives in Edmonton, Canada, said, “I couldn’t decide between Chinese or Korean, so it was very helpful. I have also used NewNew polls to decide what clothes I should wear that day and other personal stuff. I joined back in March, and I post polls three or four times a week. I’ve now had more than 1,700 total votes.”

Who are the target users?

It is aimed at “creators” – writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers, etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetize that connection.

When creators set up a NewNew account they attract followers. Then via video clips, they ask those followers to vote on aspects of both their work and personal life.

Mr. Wong, who writes fiction on the Wattpad website and app, has also used NewNew votes to decide on what genre to write about next, plus character names and plot developments.

How does the payment system work on NewNew?

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission. The creator sets the question and a choice of two answers. Their followers get to vote and can pay to do so as many times as they like. They don’t get their money back, regardless of which way the result goes.

In addition to voting, Three’s an option to make a special request to the creator to do something of the follower’s choosing – like naming a character in their book. This can be done by paying extra – from $20 onwards. But it is up to the creator to accept or reject those bids or requests. In case it is rejected, the money will be refunded to the follower.

The app’s uniqueness and appeal to Gen-Z is the key factor

Other apps such as Wishbone ask members of the public to vote on things. However, NewNew says that it provides a chance to pay for a vote on the aspects of a person’s work and personal life which is unique.

But will NewNew, which only launched two months ago and currently has fewer than 100 creators on board, have mass appeal? Social media expert Matt Navarra says he isn’t sure.

“NewNew feels a bit like if TikTok met reality TV hit Big Brother and they had a baby, and both of those were phenomenally popular,” he says. “However, it feels a little bit gimmicky, and I wonder if the novelty value will be short-lived. Yet if choosing what outfit a stranger wears gives Generation Z a buzz then it could be on to something.”

Investors and big plans

Ms Smith has been working on NewNew for the past two years. The idea developed out of a previous app she set up called Surprize. That asked members of the public to vote on what prizes it would give away to game-playing contestants.

Canadian co-founder and chief executive Ms. Smith have big plans. Some of NewNew’s heavyweight investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

Will Smith

Two-way benefit

“NewNew provides a two-way beneficial split,” says Ms Smith.

“For example, It can be a big deal for a fans to know that his favourite write named a character based on the fans suggested names. This helps the writer to build his community and fan base who are going to become his evangelists.”

“So when the creator is ready to sell that book they are going to be there helping him to promote it, because, technically, they helped to make it in their own way.” Ms. Smith adds that it only further strengthens the bond between the two sides. “Almost the more mundane the questions, the more interested you get in the person. It feels relatable.”

What is done to ensure safe content and creator-fan bond?

According to business psychologist Stuart Duff, a partner at UK firm Pearn Kandola, NewNew sounds fun, and should “create special bonds between creators and their followers. But in rare cases, some bonds might become unhealthy.”

There’s no saying that the creator won’t go to unhealthy limits to get more followers and votes. This can lead to potential self-damage and humiliation too.

To this, a NewNew spokeswoman says that the company “reserves the right to completely remove and ban any person and their content should they go against guidelines”.

Further adding that “The safety of all people on the platform is a top priority for us. The company reviews all content posted internally, and through AI, to flag any inappropriate content.”

André Patrick, a 34-year-old from Toronto, is a follower of NewNew. He says he joined initially so he could interact with a video streamer that he liked. “NewNew is a cool new way to feel closer to a person, and it shows a different side to people that you don’t always see,” he says.

So could NewNew become the next big thing in social media?

Only time will tell.

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