Perth social media app Litt to launch in Australia after Facebook news ban

Two Perth men have created their own social media app called Litt and will roll it out across Australia to take on giants like Facebook and Instagram.

Founders of Litt, Brent Thompson and Peter Salom, have already poured a couple of million dollars into their social media platform and after trialling it in Perth are preparing to take it nationwide.

The pair believe its good timing too as Facebook made a drastic move on Thursday, banning users from seeing or sharing Australian news, in response to the government’s proposed law to force social media giants to pay for news content.

Mr Thompson predicted that the social media giant’s ban will be the final straw for many users and will see a mass exodus of Aussies deleting Facebook from their lives as they look for alternatives.

“Australians will not take kindly to being bullied by a big American tech company, especially a company that does little to support the local economy,” he said. “Australian businesses and organisations spent $674 million in advertising dollars on Facebook in 2019, yet Facebook paid only $17 million in taxes in Australia that year.”

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While Litt looks like a traditional social media app with news feeds and stories, it works as a hybrid platform by incorporating e-commerce.

It pays people to watch advertisements about local businesses where they can earn money to spend in-store, with the cash registered in a Litt wallet, which can be linked to a Visa card. Mr Thompson said they give 40 per cent of the newsfeed advertising back to users.

“We feel the big ones like Facebook and Instagram have forgotten a lot about community and businesses … We want people to be rewarded for their attention and to share advertising revenue back into community, so people can use that money on local business like the small mum and dad shop down the road,” he said.

Litt even has an augmented reality advertising feature that works like PokemonGo, except rather than chasing fluffy creatures, the members are hunting down real live deals and offers promoted by local businesses.

“So Litt member can be walking in their local area and get a push notification and then hit on it and it might pop up with a floating coffee or floating handbag and they hit on it and it can be inclusive deal, so 50 per cent off burger and chips, buy one get one free,” Mr Thompson said.

“It then goes into an AR promotion section with countdown timer … so it’s driving instant foot traffic to businesses. If a Litt member doesn’t make it in time, it gets pulled out of their Litt promotion section so there is this sense of urgency.”

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Busselton Jetty is a local tourism destination in WA that has been test driving the function by holding AR treasure hunts where people chase marine creatures along the famous 1.8km stretch. Once they tap on the marine creature, they are offered a special deal, which can then be redeemed at the participating business on the jetty.

For the past six months, the app as a whole has been trialled in Perth with more than 9000 users joining and 200 businesses signing up including cafes, bars, clothing stores, tattoo parlours, hairdressers and tourism outfits.

“If you’re an Australian that loves your local community – move on from Facebook and start sharing everything you love about your suburb on Litt,” said Mr Salom.

“Your fave cafe, bakery, undiscovered beach, or why your town is the best in Australia. And unlike Facebook that bombard you with ads without any benefits, at Litt we reward you for simply watching an ad – a first in Australia.”

Mr Thompson added the aim of Litt was to bring communities together and support local businesses.

“Think of Litt like a community notice board where you share information about your favourite local hairdresser, the delicious toasties at the cafe on your street or the upcoming neighbourhood event,” he said.

The platform has also introduced a member driven moderation tool that removes inappropriate content directly from the newsfeed if enough users report it.

Mr Thompson said they want to see Litt become one of the main social media apps that people wake up and check in the morning.

“We want millions of people on this and want to roll this out around the world,” he added.

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