Plague – The Network is an unusual kind of social network and unlike rival services, you don’t have any friends at all. In fact, you don’t even need an account. At first sight this seems to be a very odd concept for a social network, but it is strangely addictive and quite entertaining. You will soon be hooked!
Plague – The Network is available for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, and there is an Android version for your smartphone or tablet. You just install the free app and start using it straight away.
What happens is that a random picture or message appears on the screen and this comes from someone nearby. You don’t know who passed it on or where they are. They could be standing next to you or several miles away, it just isn’t important.
If you like the picture or text message you swipe up the screen and if you don’t like it you swipe down. Swiping up causes it to be passed on to other Plague users that are close to you, but swiping down does not share it.
In this way, interesting posts are passed on by increasing numbers of people and the audience grows. The post rapidly spreads from person to person throughout the Plague network and also geographically too, because posts are passed on the nearby users.
You can view the spread of a popular post on a map and it shows the areas of the country or world that have been infected by it. The better the post, the more it spreads.
If you swipe down on a boring post, it is not shared and it kills the spread. The infection dies out. This means that interesting posts travel quickly throughout the network and bad posts die off quickly. Perhaps this is why, despite there being few, if any controls over what is posted, there is almost no undesirable content. There are no nude selfies here and if anyone tried it, it would be killed off and wouldn’t spread.
You can create an account and post your own photos and text messages. You can see how many times a post has been viewed, what percentage of people passed it on and the geographic locations it has spread to. People can comment on posts, so you can get feedback too.
Using Plague is a lot like browsing the Popular section of Instagram and there are some fantastic photos that people have taken and shared. There are more text messages than on Instagram and fewer selfies, but there is a definite similarity.
Plague is the sort of app that you can spend 10 minutes flicking through inspirational quotes and fantastic photos, giving your opinion with a swipe up or down. You will find yourself returning to it several times a day and it becomes quite addictive, especially when you create your own posts and track the views and geographic spread.
It is hard to see how it will ever make money in its current form, so something will have to change eventually. However, for the moment it is an entertaining app and an unusual type of social network in which you need no friends.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 30 December 2014