Oct 2, 2023 - Economy

Exclusive: Media.com relaunched as reputation management platform

Illustration of a cellphone with a blinking cursor on the screen

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Kismet Group, an Australian private equity firm, has acquired the media.com domain and will launch a publishing platform for reputation management, founder James Mawhinney exclusively tells Axios.

Why it matters: The group sees value in a site focused on reputation management for individuals and businesses as they believe social media platforms are not built for and have become too toxic for people to defend themselves.

Details: Mawhinney, CEO and founder of Media.com, says his firm is investing $20 million. He has been developing the project for the past three years and acquired the domain name in July.

  • The $20 million investment was put toward buying the domain name and will go to hiring engineers to develop the platform, a trust and safety team and staff to manage the subscription business and content licensing.
  • Individuals and businesses facing a public crisis are encouraged to debunk falsehoods about them on the platform. While users writing on the platform will be charged a subscription fee, visitors to the site can access responses for free.
  • "There's a lot of deficiencies in [how] existing social media platforms are curtailing the spread of misinformation," Mawhinney says. "With Media.com ... we're not driven by advertising revenues and impressions."

How it works: The site allows subscribers to post text, video or audio. They can upload a URL of a story, a court filing or other documents and can "deconstruct" it to respond to individual claims, Mawhinney says.

  • Subscribers will be verified to ensure that the profiles of users, who may be famous or influential, are authentic.
  • Media.com will not allow any comments on posts.
  • Users can register now for access beginning next year.

Yes, but: Platforms that allow celebrities and brands to respond to news reports or scandals already exist. Jeff Bezos responded on Medium to the National Enquirer's attempt to blackmail him, for example.

  • New features on social media can supplant the need to post to a blogging site. Tools exist to filter out unwanted comments or remove them altogether. People also can post longer blocks of text and pictures.

The big picture: Misinformation and disinformation continue to spread across social media platforms.

  • The decision for X (formerly Twitter) to remove verification from some accounts and instead charge for a checkmark has elevated confusion.
Go deeper