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Hedgehog CEO says new social media platform is community ‘for everyday Americans,’ not bad actors

Tech entrepreneur John Matze set out to fix the divisive discourse that is prominent on so many social media platforms with the recently launched app Hedgehog. 

“Hedgehog is a community we built for everyday Americans to get the biggest news of the day and have quality discussion about it,” Matze told Fox News Digital

Matze co-founded Parler in 2018, and the platform became popular among free speech enthusiasts until it was shut down for failing to moderate “egregious content.” Matze is in the middle of suing Parler over his exit, but wanted to make sure his next venture didn’t get sabotaged by bad actors and chaos agents that have ruined the social media experience for so many Americans. 

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Hedgehog

Hedgehog CEO John Matze set out to fix the divisive discourse that is prominent on so many social media platforms with his recently launched app. (Hedgehog)

As a result, Matze focused on building a “community of highly engaged and loyal readers” seeking to have thoughtful, respectable conversation on Hedgehog, which quietly launched in February for Apple and Android devices with the social media veteran as CEO. 

“We focus on a quality experience for people, and I think that quality experience that you get on Hedgehog, and just how different it is from other social media platforms, that’s really the key to sustainable growth and really the core of our model — productive conversations and discourse, something you don’t get anywhere else,” Matze said. 

“On Hedgehog, the community’s really in charge of everything,” he continued. “When you’re on Hedgehog, respectful conversation earns respect. And you can use that respect to determine, you know, what’s OK on the site, you can invite friends, family, and the more respect you earn, the more prominence you have.”

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Hedgehog

Hedgehog launched in February and is available on Android and Apple devices.  (Hedgehog)

Hedgehog users can earn profile-page badges and status in the community by creating content that other people on the platform like. A higher status rank, with achievements ranging from Bronze to Diamond, means that user has more clout when it comes to community moderation. 

The New York Post recently described Hedgehog as a “hybrid of Flipboard, Reddit and X.” It pulls news from a variety of publications, ranging from Fox News and CNN to ESPN, offering something for everybody in the process.  

The platform aims to keep out trolls, scammers and bad actors, while high-ranking users have more power than unproven newbies. Hedgehog’s website notes that everyone is welcome on the site “except jerks,” and explains the community can kick those people out.

“Community is king here at Hedgehog. Opinions are championed, but for the ones that aren’t, members and contributors can give trolls the boot,” the site elaborates. 

Matze is thrilled that he decided to have Hedgehog prioritize serving a respectful community.

“It’s a very big change from other social media platforms that put follower counts and meaningless statistics first. On Hedgehog, respect is what earns you the most respect,” Matze said. “If you look at the landscape today, there are a lot of companies out there making, what I would call, mistakes. And so, no one’s really doing it right.”

“A lot of these companies are all centrally very powerful. So, what I mean is one or two small decision makers make all of these big decisions themselves for the platform. It affects millions of people,” he continued. “And it’s having, in my opinion, a negative effect on society.”

After the headache of his last venture, Matze took a step back and carefully thought through his next endeavor. 

“This is how we came up with Hedgehog,” he said. “You have, of course, a place where the community is in charge and where everyday people are on display, not just these prominent, you know, influencer types,” he said. 

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Hedgehog

Hedgehog offers news from a variety of platforms.  (Hedgehog )

Hedgehog also features multiple layers of defense. 

Users can pay $4.99 per month to become “contributors,” which helps their content get seen by a wider audience on the platform. Matze said this helps reduce junk that tends to flood other platforms, but noted Hedgehog also upgrades community figures and frequent commenters who contribute daily to become contributors at no cost. 

Hedgehog also uses artificial intelligence to filter through content and flag potentially problematic posts to the moderation team, which has a clear-cut set of guidelines to determine what’s acceptable. 

“If it does pass those two, then it goes out to the public,” Matze said. 

“If the public has an issue with a piece of content, then they can go ahead and flag it and the community can remove any piece of content they would like using the respect score, in addition to that first layer of defense,” he explained. “The final layer is, the person who created the post gets to determine what the conversation underneath it is like. And so, they can also have a say there. So, there’s lots of safeguards.”

Fox Corp., the parent company to FOX News Media, is a Hedgehog investor. 

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