Peach – a plucky, pared down social network – ditches news feeds and hashtags

Peach, a social network that launched over the weekend, uses 'Magic Words' such as 'Song' or 'GIF' to let users share their thoughts.
Peach bills itself as a simpler approach to social sharing than Facebook or Twitter.

The average person has five social media accounts, according to a report released last January by digital analytics firm Global Web Index. And between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and countless other services, few people are probably yearning for an additional way to connect with their friends online.

But even so, Peach, a new social network, launched last Friday as a way for iPhone owners (there’s no Android app yet) to share messages, GIFs, drawings, and videos with the world.

Peach strips out a lot of the features that are central to bigger social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. There’s no central news feed that lists what other users are posting. There are no hashtags, and users can’t tag one another in posts. Users also can’t communicate directly with one another, except by choosing from a short list of actions such as waving or “booping.”

Essentially, you can share short updates and media clips on your profile, and you can view your friend’s updates by looking at their profiles individually.

At the center of Peach (the pit?) are Magic Words, which are text shortcuts that make it easy to share certain kinds of updates. Type “GIF,” and the app will let you search for a GIF to post. Type “Rate,” and you can assign a rating from one to five stars to something you’re reading, watching, or listening to (although Peach doesn’t give you a way to see what rating other users have given that book, movie, TV show, or song). Type “Song,” and Peach will use your phone’s microphone to identify the song you’re currently listening to, then share the title and artist.

Peach is drawing mixed reviews from early adopters.

“The app is silly and a little bit dumb but also rather fun, and that's often a combination that gets a social network to its first 100,000 users,” The Verge’s Casey Newton wrote last week. PCMag’s Max Eddy gave Peach a “fair” rating, writing, “I'm not sure Peach knows what Peach is for. The Magic Words are neat … but they're too cumbersome to use effectively and add so little to the very light experience.”

Dom Hoffman, the founder of video-sharing platform Vine and the creator of Peach, hasn’t given any interviews saying why he built Peach. Social media experts speculate that it’s meant to be simpler to use than Facebook and Twitter, which have (maybe) moved a bit beyond their roots as new features have been added over the years.

But social networks have to generate a lot of traction early on to stick around. The previous upstart social network, Ello, generated quite a bit of buzz when it launched in September 2014 with a promise not to sell user data to advertisers, but has since been forgotten by most users. Peach may grow if its simple-sharing approach catches on with users – or it may be discarded if they decide it isn’t different enough from existing social networks.

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