If you’ve become burned out by most social media platforms—riddled with trolls, politicos, and Facebook leaks—we don’t blame you. In the beginning, social media was a fun diversion and still can be, but a toxic wasteland has materialized around that oasis.
Might we offer a new suggestion? It’s called Petzbe, an Instagram-style platform with a strict no-humans policy—even their CEO is a Brussels Griffon named Angus. Your feed on Petzbe is flooded with cat and dog photos where you don’t “follow” or “like,” but rather “sniff” and “lick.” You don’t post pictures of your pet, but adopt the voice of your pet, posting comments as if you were literally a cat or dog.
Now, if you’re thinking a similar thing already happens on Twitter and Instagram, you wouldn’t be wrong. You have this Bassett Hound named Dean or Marnie, a 16-year-old Shih Zhu, and dozens others, who all post classic content.
But on Petzbe, you don’t have to deal with the messiness of humans. It allows people to be more vulnerable than they’d otherwise be and, good news, Petzbe also runs user challenges to raise money for animal rescue centers. Andrea Nerep is the creator of Petzbe—and the owner of Angus—and she recently explained to WIRED the inception of her app:
Nerep began working on an app that would bring out the kind of empathetic interactions she experienced during her dog walks. If it provided a space to archive her 1,000 photos of Angus, even better. Petzbe’s “No Humans Allowed” policy makes pet-owners more or less anonymous. Without knowledge of who the person attached to the account is, preconceptions around that person are wiped away, at least a little bit. “Social barriers are broken down,” says Nerep, as well as “social status, economic status, appearance. Nothing matters anymore.”
So basically, social media’s going where it’s always been headed: to the dogs. But on Petzbe, that’s actually a good thing.