In a rather surprising move, the Conservative MP Louise Mensch today launched a rival to Twitter called Menshn.com.
The new social media service is designed to enable users to debate subjects, rather than a stream of unrelated tweets.
Menshn.com is only currently available in the United States and is aimed at American users, instead of the British electorate. However, if you're interested you can access the site using a IP routing service such as TunnelBear.
Louise Mensch told The Guardian that the site was not named after her but "a play on the word mention," she said. "We like it and think it will work fine on a chat site".
The Conservative MP is well-versed in social media and has over 60,000 Twitter followers, and is known for using Twitter effectively to raise her profile as a backbench MP.
Mensch has launched the site with Luke Bozier, a former Labour political adviser. Bozier told the Guardian: "We were both frustrated at the way Twitter doesn't focus on topics. We both love Twitter, but if you want to focus on the election there's no obvious place to do that online. Twitter is just too random. We wanted to encourage people to have conversations rather than broadcast their thoughts."
Like Twitter, the site enables you to share short messages (limited to 180 characters rather than 140 characters). Unlike Twitter, posts are designed to be about specific topics, determined by the site itself. There are currently three available: election 2012, obama2012 and romney 2012. In this sense it works more like a traditional forum, albeit with social media aspects layered on top.
In a similar manner to other social media services you can invite friends, follow other users, and share private messages. Takeup to the service is limited at the moment, we can only see 80 'Menscheners' in the Election area, 54 in Obama and 44 in Romney. Everything has to start somewhere though, and it's worth noting that at the time of testing it was between 5 and 7 am in the United States. Having said that, we doubt if many American users are aware of Louise Menshn and just how .
Most messages we could see seemed fairly erratic and flippant, such as "eating crisps" by edjeff and "What planet will ROmney go live on after he dies?" But some people seemed to be getting into the spirit of the thing: "Immigration- another tactic by Obama to drive the Tea Party into the Romney camp and making sure independents feel too uncomfortable to support Romney on fiscal issues?" said CoffeeM8, and "Reagan inherited an INCREDIBLE mess from Carter, but didn't spend the next 3-1/2 years whining about it! Romney won't waste time blaming Obama-- he'll just dig in and get to work." by Shoshanna
We must admit to not feeling wholly convinced by Menshn.com, the short-form 180 characters limits any kind of in-depth commentary on politics (as it does in Twitter). But the focus on politics to the aversion of all other kind of comment seems to accentuate this flaw.
Perhaps the most telling comment was: "I have no idea how this works or why you would use it" by Orange_Monkey.