A very long time ago when I first had the idea for The Hub, I made the decision that it should be a place to hear both sides of the argument. I wanted visitors to read from both sides before deciding which way they would vote in a future referendum on independence. It's very important that the electorate has all the facts available to them (good or bad) before they cast their vote.
So for a time, The Hub contained content from Conservatives, Lib Dems & Labour as well as a few anti-independence newspapers and I defended their inclusion numerous times with various people. In 2018 that policy changed. While I still believe that we should hear from as many voices as we can, it started to feel wrong to be building an app that wanted to promote Scottish Independence at the same time as promoting content that was directly opposed to it. These anti-independence accounts were removed and The Hub became a place to find pro-indy content ONLY.
Fast forward to today and I feel it is time to have another review of content on the platform. For a while, I have been concerned with the output of some websites. Their articles have turned from being pro-independence (or anti-Union) to being mostly just anti-SNP. Before I go further, I want to set out the thought process I go through daily when thinking of ways to improve The Hub. I have 3 Golden Rules when making changes to the app and website:
- Changes will get more pro-indy content onto the platform
- Changes will improve the reach of The Hub
- Changes will ensure that visitors find enough content to help switch them to Yes
If the tweaks I do to The Hub tick all 3 boxes, then the changes are carried out. That's why (for example) I have spent the last 4 weeks reading up on things such as Google's Lighthouse test and Core Web Vital scores - extremely important changes to the way Google will now rank your website in search results. The Hub now outperforms every pro-indy website and anti-independence website in this metric - including achieving a perfect score on our Fact Check area. This should push The Hub's content even higher up in search results.
There has been a split in the Yes movement for a while now. A lot of it borne from frustration that we haven't held a second referendum yet. I understand (and share) these frustrations. With no active campaign, that frustration has been building and has turned into a vendetta against the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon for failing to hold that referendum. Anything the SNP does is now considered wrong - despite any evidence to the contrary. The attacks on the SNP have consumed some people so much that they no longer promote independence (unless it is independence minus the SNP). Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but when I see these articles appearing on The Hub, I remind myself of the 3 Golden Rules.
Do these anti-SNP articles - the constant negatively directed at the Scottish Government - tick all 3 boxes? Do these articles help win people to Yes? Or do people visit The Hub, read one of the blogs and think "SNP are corrupt. I'm going to vote No"?
Remember... all the attacks on the SNP are opinion presented as fact. The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon have actually broken no laws (or the ministerial code).
The Hub's primary aim is to get as much pro-independence content out to the public as it possibly can. With the app, it exposes people to notifications of new content. It can push out important content, it can show ads from local Yes groups. It can build things such as the incredibly useful Fact Check area. With the website, it can push content higher up search rankings so indy-curious people click a pro-indy link instead of an anti-indy link.
These anti-SNP blogs and websites are incompatible with the aims of The Hub. The Hub can not be a platform for these smear campaigns. These articles will not bring people over to Yes. These articles break all 3 of the Golden Rules.
Starting today, I will be reviewing group content on The Hub. If a group's primary aim is to attack a pro-independence party, that group will be removed. For the avoidance of doubt, this also means that any anti-Alba groups will also be removed. The entire point of The Hub is to showcase pro-independence content, not to promote spats and vendettas between rival political parties.
Debate surrounding independence and how we achieve it (including holding the referendum) will always be welcome and are valid points of discussion, but not if the output of a group on The Hub is just constant attacks of a political party without any other content to help guide people to Yes.
This is a social media platform, but it does not owe anyone a space to air views that go against the point of its existence. People that visit The Hub should be presented with pro-independence content that helps bring them to Yes. Anything to the contrary is counter-productive.