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Meet Roust, the social network that gives political nuts a safe place to troll

Jon Phillips | July 22, 2015
Religion and politics: You just don't discuss them at the dinner table. But even the most polarizing opinions have become fair game on Facebook, and that's why Mark LaFay thinks the world needs his new social media platform, Roust.

By default, anything you post to Roust will be visible only to your Roust Friends group. So, how, exactly does a user get the troll ball rolling? First, you can flag your post as public, and this will expose your pro- or anti-whatever rant to the entire Roust community. And when the platform is ready for business, you'll be able to do hashtag and keyword searches for any phrase you like. Search for #caitlynjenner, and you'll find every public post on the former Olympian. At which point you can join the fray. 

A troll by any other name

I asked LaFay point blank if Roust is the ultimate platform for trolls. He said it's "not built for trolls at all," and will even have a "troll calculator" to put people who abuse the platform into posting purgatory. Moreover, users who make threats and engage in other types of egregious abuse will be dispatched by admins.

Nonetheless, I think he and I have a different definition of the word troll. In my dictionary, troll defines anyone who writes something that's been deliberately crafted to inflame those with opposing viewpoints. And by that definition, trolls will find a happy home in Roust. 

"We definitely want civil discourse, but everybody likes a trainwreck," LaFay says. "When somebody loses their mind, we all like to watch and take note. We're not building it so that people can go nuclear, but I'm sure that that's going to happen. Our vision is that people will use this to challenge thoughts and ideas. But we're not going to dictate with an iron fist how you behave."


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