YouTube superstar and occasional anti-Semite PewDiePie stirred up another blockchain-based controversy by endorsing a cryptocurrency-powered social media app that describes itself in terms usually reserved for failed philosophy PhD’s or Jim Jones wannabes.
The Swedish YouTuber also known as Felix Kjellberg raised a storm of protest from privacy-minded followers on Reddit and YouTube last week after sponsoring Nimses, a blockchain social media app in which participants earn a cryptocurrency called a nim for each minute spent on the site, as well as for activities such as “liking” other users photos. The nim’s will be tradable for goods “soon” according to the site.
Kjellberg controversially entered the blockchain space in April when he endorsed blockchain-based livestreaming host DLive. Kjellberg has started his own livestreaming on a DLive channel, and helped the company’s user base boom as it entered the U.S.
Like Nimses, DLive offers users a cryptocurrency for spending time on the site. Unlike Nimses, it has a business plan rather than a creed citing the works of Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jung, Aristotle, and Thomas Hobbes, among other philosophers.
Nimses has aspects of Facebook’s ability to join communities, and Instagram’s photo posting, but it also shows you which other users are within a roughly two-mile radius. It claims millions of users in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and has recently entered the United States.
“The idea is to turn a human life into a source of financial capital,” Kjellberg said in his endorsement, asking supporters to follow him on Nimses. “If you download it, your life will become a social media game.”
Kjellberg was immediately and heavily criticized by fans, mainly for failing to properly investigate the products he sponsors. There is some basis for that criticism. A post on internet security provider Kaspersky’s website (albeit one last updated in September 2018) called it “unsafe” privacy-wise.
The posts on the r/PewDiePieSubmissions subreddit amounted to a lot of suspicion and accusations that Nimses sucks up far more personal data than people consider acceptable, as well as calling it “shady,” is a “pyramid scheme” [because users earn nims for recruiting others], and even like an episode of the dystopian TV show Black Mirror. Of course, Kjellberg bringing up “Black Mirror” in his endorsement didn’t help in that regard.
Kjellberg responded, saying that some of the claims made about Nimses—such as that it tracks users even after they uninstall the app—were, “just demonstrably false.”
As for what it does track, Kjellberg added, “literally every single social media tracks what Nimses does. It’s a social media app. If you’re worried about your privacy, by all means don’t sign up to a social media network.”
As with DLive, which gained two million new followers in the month of its PewDiePie sponsorship, Nimses’ partnership with Kjellberg bore fruit. Enough members of the PewDiePie legion—which numbers 96.5 million on YouTube—signed up to jump it up Apple’s App Store social networking category from No. 564 on June 2 to No. 5 on June 7, according to AppAnnie.
Reply to PewDiePie
The PewDiePie controversy was big enough that Nimses had to address it. In a blog post dated June 8, Andrey Boborykin, Nimses head of marketing and communications, wrote, “Last week’s endorsement by PewDiePie … has brought even more users to our platform. And as often happens when trying to present a complex project to a massive audience, there have been some misconceptions and confusion about Nimses.”
He said that Nimses does not sell user data, and does not take a cut of the fees advertisers pay directly to users—via blockchain—who voluntarily watch the ads. While Nimses does use geolocation to show community (Temple) users which other community members are close by, it does not show their exact location. And, users can request a data report on themselves.
“We don’t record or store activity unrelated to Nimses-based interactions,” he said, adding, “The permissions our service asks are fully compliant with the latest [European Union] General Data Protection Rules and are the industry-standard level in the social media and tech world.”
Saying the Nimses is still a fairly new company, Boborykin noted that “we are not perfect but we are learning and refining our project with each new user. Going forward, we are committed to communicating more clearly to our users.”
Nimses is its own worst enemy
It probably doesn’t help that Nimses describes itself in language that is both new agey and messianic in the manner of a college student who read too much philosophy without bothering to understand it.
A Nimses, the company says in an all-capitalized scream, is a “UNIFIED, METAPHORICAL ‘PRAYER’ OF ALL HUMANS TOWARD THE SHARED CONCEPT OF ‘CREATOR.’ NIMSES IS A CONSCIOUS APPEAL OF THE UNIFIED EGOS OF ALL HUMANITY. AN ATTEMPT TOWARDS THE ULTIMATE GOAL.”
The Nimses world is divided into 538,560 “Temples” each 2.4 square kilometers, covering the entire earth, oceans included. More than 6,400 are currently active.
Nimses communities are these geographically defined temples, with each user having a home temple. Users can subscribe to other Nimses temples besides their own for a very small daily fee.
“NIMSES PROCLAIMS EARTH A TEMPLE,” the company said, describing a temple as, “A BEARER OF A UNIFIED VERSION OF ‘REALITY,’ IT IS AN ETERNAL, INDESTRUCTIBLE, LIMITLESS CONTAINER THAT ACCUMULATES TRACES OF HUMAN ACTIVITY.”
Temple communities are peopled by five classes (in ascending order): Citizens (home community member), Residents (community subscriber), Nobles (power users), Masters (moderators), and Angels (influencers). The currency of the realm is the nim (each worth one minute of time on the Nimses site). Dominims are equal to 30% more than the number of
minutes nims in a year) and Infinims are equal to a 120-year human lifespan of nims.
When describing its currency (the “ninonomy”) Nimses drops the capitalization and starts to sound a little bit more like an idealistic cryptocurrency promoter: “The goal of Nimses is to provide society with an absolute capital and to lead it to its future global state: a future unified, benevolent human economy.”
More prosaically, the Nimses Blockchain and App have a number of features, starting with a verified social ID/wallet, Nimses Exchange (Nimex), and the Nimses Goods marketplace, which is still to come. Nimses Ads are targeted, but only viewed upon request, in exchange for nims.
Posting photos or videos carries a cost in nims, which is higher when posted from smartphone’s memory.
Nims are earned for using the app, but a daily fee is charged, which increases after five days without visiting Nimses. Community moderators (Judges) can issue fines for bad behavior in a Nimses Court.
Nimses members are defined as “Users” until confirmed by six verified members, known as “Humans.”
In a nod to capitalism, Nimses Immutable Laws noted that, “[a] Human has the right to The Common Good and the possession of any number of honestly acquired nims, dominims, and infinims.”