“Me Right Now Time! You have 5 minutes to show friends what you’re doing right now!” Newly Patented Post Type Encourages Friends to Drop the Filter and Show Their Real Lives
PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Phanto, the social networking product development company located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is announcing the issuance of the latest of multiple pending patents for its breakthrough social networking platform for authenticity, U.S. patent 11,616,751 B2.
The original patent specification was filed by Phanto July 16, 2019, to describe the company’s recent inventions at the time titled Me Right Now and Sup!, or more generally “Third Party-initiated Social Media Posting,” following five years developing and testing novel methods for increased authenticity and privacy in online sharing.
“We are proud to have been awarded our latest patent covering our novel platform providing users a way to share their real lives with friends through safe, authentic posts, which our team spent years developing and testing. The methods contained in this patented platform represent a shift towards healthier, more inclusive and more authentic sharing among friends,” said Dan Morrison, founder and CEO of Phanto, and previous cofounder and CEO of early social network ITtoolbox (launched in 1998 and acquired in 2007). “As the social networking industry matures, we anticipate patents will represent a cornerstone of future innovation and breakthroughs that benefit all players, including users and startups who benefit from such protections through increased investment. Larger platforms will also benefit from patented innovations of smaller companies in a win-win scenario as smaller companies, free from internal biases that come with running large existing platforms, make their innovations available to be used within these large networks.”
Morrison continued, “Patents provide the social networking industry with what we believe may be a necessary ability to rely on exclusivity to drive new cultural movements, getting breakthrough innovations over the complicated hurdle of mass adoption as users congregate in one place to experience new ways of sharing at scale. Without such patent protections, mass adoption of an otherwise breakout innovation risks being prematurely neutralized as the early growth of the innovator is quickly diffused among copycats, producing a situation where such features may fail to reach the level of enthusiasm necessary to unlock their benefit to society.”
History of the Patented Invention
The Me Right Now invention was the culmination of more than five years of research and development on completely novel ways to share online more authentically and privately. This R&D involved launching and test marketing five unique social networking apps, hosting over 500 target users in office for focus groups and user interviews to understand the needs and pains of Gen Z users and test innovative solutions, and filing and eventually securing over a dozen patents on the resulting, market tested methods, with more patents pending.
The company’s fourth app in its ongoing research and development efforts, named Phanto (the only app to use the company’s namesake), was dedicated to authentic sharing among close friends and used the tagline “Be real. Stay close.” The Phanto app was first launched in the Apple App Store August 13, 2018. After testing and receiving feedback on several novel improvements to authentic sharing within early versions of the Phanto app, the company came upon three important lessons it deemed fundamental to producing a modern social networking breakout.
First, to motivate users to set up a new social graph on a new app requires more than improvements to existing patterns and features. Feedback suggested any breakout feature would require a new post type that users could not make at any other app they already had, and they had to want to make that post type immediately and repeatedly with their friends (see Tweet, “conclusions from this perspective”” from 10/7/2019 https://twitter.com/bydanm/status/1181307896933433346).
Second, editorial controls in conventional posts offered by existing social networks incentivized users to post idealized, inauthentic versions of themselves, producing unhealthy cognitive dissonance for an entire generation that grew up recognizing a need to exist online but only having these inauthentic outlets to do so. A new post type meeting their inherent desire for authenticity would need to remove enough editorial control to enforce authenticity while making it safe for users to share more candidly among friends, despite this type of raw sharing running counter to long established social norms.
Third, since it had become common for large companies and well funded startups alike to fast copy any breakout feature and thus cause harm to an original inventor before they could recognize the value of their invention and see its development through, these novel inventions would need to be patentable and thoroughly patented to avoid a near certain loss of investment and opportunity as soon as a larger rival with powerful network effects copied (see TechCrunch “Snapchat growth slowed 82% after Instagram Stories Launched” https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/02/slowchat/).
To overcome these obstacles, the company invented a completely novel post type for sharing among friends that induces the true authenticity Gen Z users crave and that they couldn’t make at any other social app. This new post type, originally named “Me Right Now” by the company, was introduced to the Phanto app March 9th, 2019. To enable the Me Right Now post type, the Phanto social network issued users a push notification once a day at a time determined by the social network, giving users a predetermined number of minutes (a limit that varied during public testing) to respond by posting a newly captured, unedited photo to their story for their friends to see. In the following weeks, the feature was modified to require photos from both the front and back cameras to give viewers a sense they could see an unedited window into their friends real daily lives, bringing them closer together.
Qualified Me Right Now posts were eventually labeled with a unique indicator certifying their system imposed authenticity, distinguishing a dedicated post type that could only be made under such specific constraints. This authenticity indicator helped viewing users understand why their friend’s posts were unusually candid and often unflattering in comparison to conventional posts that tended to be staged or highly selective, and reduced reputation risk from those sharing unusually raw photos and/or videos by certifying the specific authenticity criteria had been imposed by the system. The novel Me Right Now invention for friend sharing was a breakthrough hit with early Phanto users, and these lessons learned from the thorough research and development process formed the basis for the 2019 patent filings.
Throughout the remainder of 2019 the company identified opportunities to improve the invention and drive increased posting and greater repeat usage beyond the once a day, system generated request, filing further patents on these inventions, providing an entire platform of features around the authentic post type, and extending them into dating specific applications. Both the Phanto app and successor Sup! app (where some of these v2 features were developed and tested) were temporarily shelved by early 2020, in part to allow the company’s patent filings to circulate the US patent process to secure rights to the invention prior to broad marketing, in order to avoid likely harms resulting from fast copying as identified above.
The company has over a dozen more patent filings in progress providing further coverage of the original, system requested, time limited, once a day authentic post type, as well as extensions of the platform covering new applications of the invention, some of which tested notably better among users than the original. Phanto plans to bring these and the original feature to market in at least one new app scheduled to release in 2023.
Phanto is a technology product development company creating innovative online sharing experiences through research and development in the field of social networking, with a focus on big and novel ideas to bring friends closer together and make sharing safer through improved authenticity and privacy. Phanto provides solutions to social media’s biggest problems through rigorous research and development combined with deep experience in the origin and evolution of social networking platforms, in an environment free from internal biases that come with operating large, mature products.