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A smaller social network for better friends?

12:26 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

A former Facebook executive aims to turn the world of social networking on its head by limiting the number of friends you can have to 50. So does a smaller, more personal social network make for better friends?

Dave Morin's new company Path aims to enable more effective communications with people who are part of your trusted enclave. It contradicts the ethos of most social networks which includes loose acquaintances and colleagues.

"Facebook is about society and I think the need we are seeing at Path is that people still want to share more and share more openly with the people they trust the most and that is why we put this 50 limit on the service," said Mr Morin.

Would you use a social networking site that limited your connections to 50? Do you think people will want to prioritise more trusted relationships in their online space? Does a smaller, more personal social network make for better friends?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    A smaller social network for better friends?

    Que?

    No, i stil can't work out why i need to publish my life online in order to maintain my realtionships with friends and family.



  • Comment number 2.

    haha i cant imagine how many arguments this is going to cause!

    what about person 51 who wont fit on they will get there bee in a bonnet because you picked sally instead of them.

    or you added your friend but forgot your gf somebody has to go! or your gf will give you hassle!

    sad but thats exactly what will happen

  • Comment number 3.

    I know who my friends and family are, they know how to contact me. The rest of the world dosnt know me and therefor dosent know where I am or how to contact me. Need to know - you dont need to know so you dont.

    Guess how many social networking sites I'm registered at?

  • Comment number 4.

    Because the world really needs ANOTHER social networking site...

  • Comment number 5.

    Reminds me of all the debates we had about how to pick 50 guests for my wedding.

  • Comment number 6.

    Excellent thinking: you do not want the whole world or all your acquaintances knowing your cherished dreams or come into your secret garden. That space is reserved for your very special buddies and especially if you are separated by distance! Fruitful communication is a part of living and when you spend quality time you want to share it with those closest to you.

  • Comment number 7.

    Rubbish.

  • Comment number 8.

    Smaller social network for better friends?
    Smaller social network for better information sharing - all those personal details - that you will feed to BIG BROTHER.
    Consider: Facebook hits 500m user milestone - all of which data is sitting in files waiting to be picked by Big Brother.
    Morin's new company "Path" will limit your "friendships" to 50 - but real friends, intimate friends, friends who know where you live and what you do.
    A friend whom you have never met is still a friend whom you have never met. Maybe there should be a test to see how much you actually know about your so-called best 50 friends.
    The aim is to enable more effective communications with people who are part of your "trusted" enclave, and while you sharing information with your trusted enclave, you are also sharing it with Big Brother who will make you into one big, trusting enclave.
    Social Networks have moved by degrees
    - acquaintances to
    - friends to
    - closest 50 friends.
    Dig this, assess this: Path will focus on photo-sharing, pictures, memories and daily activities. Evidently the future of the internet is going to get far more personal. I really need to ask "To what end?"
    Mr Morin: "Our ultimate mission is to make the world a happier place and we are trying to architect a product that brings happiness."
    Now assess these words on their own: "a product that brings happiness".
    "A product that brings happiness"...Isn't that what advertising industry has been selling is for years: A product that will make you sexier, prettier, thinner, less wrinkled, less tired, etc. all of which is supposed to = happier.
    Would you use a social networking site that limited your connections to 50?
    No more than I would use a site that had no such limitation.
    Do you think people will want to prioritise more trusted relationships in their online space?
    Probably, people are peculiar in the intimate details which they will share with whom.
    Does a smaller, more personal social network make for better friends?
    There is absolutely no reason that it should.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Our ultimate mission is to make the world a happier place and we are trying to architect a product that brings happiness," said Mr Morin.

    What?

    By limiting the number of people you can share photos with to 50?

    They really talk a load of flannel these people.

    You're aim is to make pots of cash. You've limited it to 50 because that's the only way you can think of to make it 'different' to facebook!

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't see the point of this. What businesses is it of the website provider how many friends someone has?

  • Comment number 11.

    These social networking sites are a funny thing. "I`ve had this great idea! a site where you can have thousands of online friends!" Next, "I`ve had this great idea! a site where you don`t have to have thousands of friends!" It`s a crazy world indeed.

  • Comment number 12.

    I have never used Facebook. Can you not limit the number of friends you decide to have anyway?

    I do find it amusing when I have been invited to join Facebook to be informed how many "friends" they have.



  • Comment number 13.

    A smaller social network for better friends?

    Sure, and this would make it far more likely for you to share more information and personal details than you would say on facebook with perhaps a thousand freinds. Therefore putting you at a far greater risk of identity theft and so on.

    I grew up in the UK and have since moved to Canada, these social networking sites are great for me to keep in touch with my family and the freinds I grew up with.

    50-freind max? Sure why not, but will I give up facebook? Doubt it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Probably have to have more than one site, if you're into that sort of thing.

    Personally, I find that friends, family, and business associates mainly ignore each other's existence--but it's still unwieldy. I'd prefer it if the whole phenomenon collapsed under its own weight & I could go back to my "all my exes live in Texas" mode of living.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't imagine why we should need another social network site.There are already too many!
    How about an ANTI Social network site?

  • Comment number 16.

    I wouldn't say this idea is original but people who use facebook have either small isolated friend groups (containing only the people they're interested communicating with), or 100's and 100's of friends and acquaintances via 6' of separation..

    There maybe a niche market for services that enable communications with "actual friends" as in the people who you'd socially interact with on a daily/weekly basis or share a history with, and typically that's around 50 people in a life time.

    But, the success of any social network is completely dependant on whether a new member is able to find the people they know. It turns out that when someone joins a social network, they generally need to find atleast 7 "friends" before they actively use it on a regular basis..

  • Comment number 17.

    These social network sites are nothing but a waste of time in the first place. There are already too many people whining they cannot find their 'life partner'. Try getting off your backside, putting your mobile phone/laptop away and actually holding a face-to-face conversation with a real human being.

  • Comment number 18.

    Big, small, or somewhere in between, when is the BBC going to stop plugging these companies?

    As had been asked before who on your board has vested interests?

  • Comment number 19.

    Facebook is not for friends, its for showing off how many people you know or encountered once or knew when you were a teenager. Its also for finding out what people you know are doing without having to contact them directly. For some, its about comparing how you're doing with your life compared to people you know.
    A smaller friends group might work but with 50, you'd probably have seen them fairly recently so I wonder if there would be much left to talk about online.

  • Comment number 20.

    cant we just limit the word "facebook" from the tv ?

  • Comment number 21.

    I can just see it now, the new media catchphrase " you dont make my 50"

  • Comment number 22.

    8. At 1:37pm on 19 Nov 2010, BluesBerry wrote:
    "A product that brings happiness"...Isn't that what advertising industry has been selling is for years: A product that will make you sexier, prettier, thinner, less wrinkled, less tired, etc."

    Clearly a product that I have failed to purchase!

    Like most people over the age of fifteen, I have about 60 "friends" on Facebok, and can't remember who about 40 of them actually are. I'm usually too busy to post anything, so on the rare occasions when I've got nothing to say or do I have time to go onto Facebook to report "I have nothing to say or do". Apart from that: it's brilliant.

    "Dave Morin's new company Path aims to enable more effective communications with people who are part of your trusted enclave".
    If you don't trust people who are going to look at pictures of your toy cat, then why would you "befriend" them in the first place? so, as others have observed, the limit of 50 is just an attempt to make the site seem to offer something "new". It's a complete waste of time, and so will probably attract millions.

    15. At 2:49pm on 19 Nov 2010, antjohnradford wrote:
    "How about an ANTI Social network site?"

    A bit like HYS, for example?!

  • Comment number 23.

    I consider myself to be reasonably computer literate but I still don't get the point of Facebook or other social networking sites. If I have a friend I communicate with them on a one to one basis by email, phone or SMS. If I don't have the inclination or ability to contact them in this way, then they are not a friend. In any event, I doubt there are many or any people in this world that have as many as 50 genuine friends. If I exclude my family, I have about a dozen people who I would trust with my life. Am I unusual or can someone out there educate me on the virtues of Facebook. Certainly when I challenge peole who use it, they fail to convince me. One of my friends was close to tears because someone she knew had more friends on FBook tha her. Now how sad is that?

  • Comment number 24.

    I've already got one of these: it's called an address book!

  • Comment number 25.

    I can't quite see why I would use this new social network at all, partly on the grounds that I would have difficulty finding five 'friends', let alone fifty. These figures exclude the family, but then I see and talk to them constantly. I suppose there must be a point to it all, as otherwise people wouldn't bother, but how it enables closer relationships is something I fail to understand. I like to think I have an open mind though, so can anyone elucidate?

  • Comment number 26.

    Facebook - Created by the Harvard boys for the peasants! You can keep it!

  • Comment number 27.

    I took a look at the new Path site, and found that apparently I must download the application before I can find out any details about it. How odd. Is this normal?

  • Comment number 28.

    Having heard how at least one member got his 'friends' I can only say the whole thing is meaningless anyway.

  • Comment number 29.

    Some people will say anything to get their mug in the limelight

  • Comment number 30.

    It doesn't look like we are going to get 50 people to comment on this subject so it seems that no-one really cares.

  • Comment number 31.

    Are friends electric?

  • Comment number 32.

    A smaller social network for better friends?

    We call it "the village pub".

  • Comment number 33.

    Why not?

    - given that Dunbars number (the theoretical number of people that it is possible to maintain social relationships with) is generally taken to be 150 - and this is for groups with a strong need (not desire but an actual need for survival).

    now, apparently those 150 friends will take up over 40% of your time to maintain contain with them all!

    i would therefore suspect that people with more than 50 friends are just "collectors" else they need to switch the pc off a bit and GO OUTSIDE!

  • Comment number 34.

    I don't belong to any social network because I personally prefer parties; that is, the way people used to meet others. The idea of Facebook creeps me out, in honesty.

    But I think the idea of a friend cap is a very bright idea. And I certainly agree with you, Jon; the amount of time spent on computers these days is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 35.

    I've voluntarily limited my number of 'friends' to zero, and prefer to have real friends instead.

    It's great. You should try it....

  • Comment number 36.

    all these so called socal networks are a pure rubbish as virtual friends remain virtual (noumenas), the creatures of your own imaginations that often have nothing in common with their real prototypes. Virtual friendship is the result of the inability to socialize yourself in the real world and loneliness. it is the modern ersatz of the real relationships so it doesnt matter how much friends one have on sites..they all remain unreal, virtual and thus non-existent.
    that`s why few real friends are not so easy to find and they are a God`s gift.

  • Comment number 37.

    Does he mean imaginary friends.
    Kids nowadays seem obsessed with having large numbers of friends on Fakebook or other such networks.
    The sad thing is society cannot drown in such shallow mediorcrity, soon they will lose the ability to interact with real people like on......HYS................oh my go..................!

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, if thats what the new network wants to do then fine. It wont work for Facebook however, I imagine that idea would sink like a lead weight if it was actual user policy and people would desert fb in droves.
    Facebook is about self publicity and putting yourself out there to be seen,although I have real friends on there, they are people I know in real life and I do not add friends because it was a suggestion or someone needs an extra number for a game.
    Facebook works for whatever the user wants, if a limit on friends existed then would that mean a person has 50 mediocre friends or 50 good friends which may exclude the opportunity to make new, deeper friendships in the long run.
    Had I not taken a leap of faith in 2000 and joined the yahoo network I would not now be married or have children, or have family 11,000 miles away, nor would I have good friends in the US or Mexico. You just cannot limit a persons ability to communicate in such a way as to limit how many people one knows!

  • Comment number 39.

    I have no need for such trivia and I would guess nor do most people.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think it would be interesting if it managed to dethrone facebook. You'll definitely know who your real friends are, that's for sure...

  • Comment number 41.

    Wots facebook?

  • Comment number 42.

    All my friends are on BBC HYS.

    I don't need facebook.

  • Comment number 43.

    Would be better if they had a site that promised to not allow your family to ever find you, and 50 strangers of the opposite sex only will be allowed to contact, only if their profile selections match yours. If you find you dont like one you can bin her/him and a new selection is highlighted for you to swop inane utter rubbish with.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    The fact that someone sits in front of a computer counts their imaginary friends and then boasts about it confirms my suspicions that facebook and other so called social networks are inhabited by the very sad.

  • Comment number 46.

    I would just like to point out to all those who are against 'giving their info to big brother', that Path is more about photos - sharing moments of where you are, what you're doing in pictures rather than words. It's a nice thought: if I'm out and see something interesting, I'll take a photo of it on my phone. Of course, the purpose of taking a picture of something is to show it to other people, so it makes perfect sense to be able to upload it to a site like that instantly.

    50 'sharers'? A good but flawed idea. I have just over 100 friends on facebook, but they're all people I talk to fairly regularly. It is nice to know that only my close friends will see my adventures though :)

  • Comment number 47.

    This is a ridiculuous idea! I use facebook to get in contact with people I havn't seen in a long time. I might not talk to them often but I can if I want to, I shouldn't be limited!

    I also use facebook to advertise events and fundraising that I do. If I only have 50 friends, than I have to guarantee that they will all sign up and pass it onto their friends to get the same results I would with the same number of friends I have on facebook.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hmmmm. Let me see. I don't want everyone to see everything I write or photos etc I put on facebook. oooh. Privacy settings.

    I already have people on facebook divided into "real" friends and simple acquaintances I will play games with or chat with occasionally. What I share with each group is very different.

    On a more serioius note, I am seriously disabled and housebound. I no longer get the everyday chit chat most people take for granted. The internet and sites like facebook gives me that and I would hate to lose it.

    There is nothing wrong with chatting, playing and sharing things with people on the internet. Just so long as you remember that bar the odd 1 or 2, they are not real friends.

  • Comment number 49.

    Oh,and I want it on record too that Israel's to blame for Facebook,the Zionists for MySpace and the White House for funding it all.Just wanted to put that word in edgewise while we're all about it.Where are our libs in this debate?

  • Comment number 50.

    Just what is a 'friend', on fb my children are my 'friends', and so is my wife..now that cannot be right as she seems very grumpy today.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    "Friends" who are they kidding. They are just on-line contacts and just not worth the bother of it all.

  • Comment number 53.

    Stage 1: Cut down number of friends to 50.
    Stage 2: Screen it down to 10
    Stage 3: That's final; scrap social network sites.

    Social network sites are a bunch of deceits.

  • Comment number 54.

    What a load of twaddle!

  • Comment number 55.

    So if I make a new 51st friend, to include the new person, I will have to remove one of the existing ones from the list and tell him/her - you are no longer my friend...
    How funny that would be?

  • Comment number 56.

    Now let me see, I run six online role-playing games with 5 players in each, play in several more, then there are all the medal collectors... I can easily surpass a 50-individuals limit with the people I communicate with every day, never mind people I talk to when I've something to say to them... and all this run via e-mail and bulleting boards with nary a social network in sight.

  • Comment number 57.

    Can't see the point in limiting the number of friends on social networking sites, unless the technical geeks are having trouble with size of databases.

    I can see the point in limiting what you post on social networking sites so you keep yourself and your friendships safe.

    But if you want better friendships, you take the time and trouble to meet your friends face to face.

  • Comment number 58.

    Ah!... Like the many friends and acquaintances of Julius Caesar.

    ================== ?????????????????? ====================

  • Comment number 59.

    What kind of dozos want to share infantile, puerile nonsense with more than 50 others?

  • Comment number 60.


    I refuse to have many friends on the grounds I can't stand people, especially modern day people, they're full of sh*t!

  • Comment number 61.

    for people with over 50 friends just how many of these do they know....many get a request to add and just click the button.....they'll not friends at all.

  • Comment number 62.

    In the real world there are countless friends you've never met, but you soon recognise them when you do, I find.

    These circles of people (whether internet connected or otherwise), who've just become a habit with each other might be better kicking it.

  • Comment number 63.

    People suck, regardless of friendbase.

    This to me is an absolute fact of life. Moreso than saying the sky is blue and the grass is green.

  • Comment number 64.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't have 50 mates at the pub!!! Good job this measure doesn't stretch to real life and only applies to those pathetic, sad, lonely, couch-potato individuals who are unable to interact with real people.
    Have never used "bum comic" or whatever it is called. Sounds really sad. Get out and get real lives.

  • Comment number 67.

    I shun all social networks. I make friends by meeting them face-to-face or through person-to-person correspondence. Social network "friendships" are fake.

  • Comment number 68.

    Who cares ? Seriously is this a debate we need to be having instead of real news ? Why weren't we allowed to have a debate on Tory Lord Young saying Brits had "never had it so good" in this "so called" recession ? If Labour had been in power we would have had the debate on this page for days.

  • Comment number 69.

    Whenever social networks are mentioned on HYS the floodgates are opened for the "why broadcast your whole life" style comments. It always makes me wonder how many of these comments come from people who have never used a social network.

    I am a Facebook user and am fully aware of it's problems. However, it allows users to take what they want from it. If you wish to register, add every single person you come across as a friend and then let them know every detail about your day, you can. Likewise you could only add your brother who lives in Australia and follow what he chooses to publish without anyone else ever knowing anything about you. You could comment on what your brother has been doing without anyone but your brother ever seeing it. You can even set privacy settings to make you unsearchable if you wish. I do not understand the negativity, it is a very versatile means of communication which can meet many individual needs.

    I do accept that it is not perfect and users need more control. For example, I choose not to display any photos of myself online but anyone can post a picture of me and "tag" me in it so that this photo is available for everyone of my online friends to see. They are even notified that a photo of me has been uploaded in their news feed. This is an annoyance of mine, I can remove my name from there but often it has been posted for many hours before I log on. There should be an option to block people from tagging you and an option to have them remove your photo would be ideal.

    Other than the obvious and well publicised privacy disasters, give social networks a break. They can be very useful and they do serve a purpose for millions of users.

  • Comment number 70.

    This should result in refining/editing the friends circle to have a quality friend circle and will motivate good friends to be selected for one's (friend's)exclusive circles.

  • Comment number 71.

    Whats the point? Surely the best person to decide how many friends you want is the user? There is no obligation for the user to accept a friend request, if they want to restrict their friends to close friends/family then facebook already provides perfectly adequate facilities to do so.

  • Comment number 72.

    68. At 11:15pm on 20 Nov 2010, Icebloo wrote:
    Who cares ? Seriously is this a debate we need to be having instead of real news ? Why weren't we allowed to have a debate on Tory Lord Young saying Brits had "never had it so good" in this "so called" recession ? If Labour had been in power we would have had the debate on this page for days.



    We have ........... http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/have_you_never_had_it_better_t.html

  • Comment number 73.

    Most social networking involves 'virtual' friends and a young persons' popularity seems to be measured by the number of friends they have on line - quantity over quality.

  • Comment number 74.

    69. At 11:16pm on 20 Nov 2010, Killer Boots Man wrote:
    Whenever social networks are mentioned on HYS the floodgates are opened for the "why broadcast your whole life" style comments. It always makes me wonder how many of these comments come from people who have never used a social network.


    ==================================================


    Probably most of them, including me. It comes from stories of those who naively post everything about themselves and their friends, and then find themselves in trouble.

    I'm sure I'm going to be put right here. But my point of view is that if I use something for which I do not pay, if information I place on a site is misused (I believe Facebook changed its settings at one point and information some people believed to be private became public) I have far more difficulty in having it corrected - they owe me nothing.

    As you say, others can post information about you, which is ridiculous bearing in mind the Data Protection Act, but I don't think it applies to such sites.

    For myself, I'm happier to wait to see people, or write them letters - some recipients of my letters live abroad, and are getting older now, and they love receiving a letter or a postcard on paper.



  • Comment number 75.

    No thank you, I need at least 100 friends to play all the games on facebook.

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm surprised by the outrage displayed over the decision of a person who wants to set up a social networking site that restricts the number of people on it to 50 friends. I think the idea has some merit because it is based on quality, not quantity, and I really don't think that anyone other than teenagers would really have 50 or more close friends. However, I believe there is a much greater need for a social networking site where peddling websites, blogs etc should not be allowed.

  • Comment number 77.

    Seriously ... the BBC was once a revered and intelligent organisation. Is this really the most thought-provoking HYS your team can come up with?

  • Comment number 78.

    Anyone over the age of 12 that uses Facebook is sad and needs a real life. Fifty contacts, let alone "friends" is a sign of something seriously wrong with an individual unless it's a juvenile.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    Networking is networking. Friends is friends. If you confuse the two unhappiness will ensue.

  • Comment number 81.

    Facebook is so last year. Here is a better idea:

    Create a social networking website and call it something like "Village."
    The user can allocate vacancies for various roles subject to a maximum for each grouping.

    For example this would include the following groups: 24 real friends, 24 family members, 12 soul mates, 12 shared-interest acquaintances, 12 technical advisors and so on.

    Your "house" in the village can be as big as you like but you cannot exceed the individual group limits.

    The groups would be inter-linked so that you had indirect contact with say family members' own family listings or your technical advisors own technical listings.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's as well to remember that Jessie James was killed by a "friend".

    People usually do not let their "enemies" near enough to harm them.

  • Comment number 83.


    50? 150 ? 550 ? Good question ....

    HOW MANY SHEEP DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A FLOCK ?

    Facebook ,Myspace Bebo ... All sounds like Gary Glitters "Do you want to be in my gang "... another lost sole

  • Comment number 84.

    The only purpose I can see about joining a social network site is just to brag about your circle of friends. eg I've got more friends than you've got... nah nah nee nah nah, which quite frankly to me, is just being childish.

  • Comment number 85.

    81. At 2:52pm on 21 Nov 2010, Anthony wrote:
    "...Create a social networking website and call it something like "Village."..."
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Have you ever lived in a village, Anthony? I'd try it first before you recommend it to others, even virtually.



  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    You can make contacts in cyberspace but 'friendships' there are just an illusion. How can you know what they're really like to chat to, what they really believe, what mannerisms they have, how they react to awkward situations, what they smell like? And how do you know whether they're inventing a persona and disguising their real selves?

    No. Stop living in some make-believe world. Real friends are people you meet, want to meet again, go out with, drink with, trust, babysit for, invite to your home.

  • Comment number 89.

    The model of centralised server social networks - where someone owns and stores your content - has a limited lifetime. Limiting the number of connections to fifty (or one hundred or one thousand) will never change the underlying fact: people do not need managed social networks.

  • Comment number 90.

    55. At 1:48pm on 20 Nov 2010, Pandora wrote:
    "So if I make a new 51st friend, to include the new person, I will have to remove one of the existing ones from the list and tell him/her - you are no longer my friend...
    How funny that would be?"

    It will have the salutory effect of making people court you more assiduously, and curry favor constantly to remain in your good graces, and kowtow to your every whim and desire, so as not to be cut from your list.

  • Comment number 91.

    Twitface, blogbook, boogel, bung, bling, friendsface, myspot, hoopscotch etc etc etc. NOT ONE OF MY FRIENDS ARE THERE! They are live in bars, clubs, games, homes etc etc etc etc
    AND no one tells any of us just how many friends we should have!
    SWITCH OFF and GET A REAL LIFE!

  • Comment number 92.

    Maybe if people had REAL LIFE friends then they wouldnt be that concerned with made up ones.

    To have REAL friends, you first need a life, & if you are on Facebook or whatever, twittering away to 50 different people then you just dont have time for a life and that is YOUR life.

  • Comment number 93.

    Limiting the number of connections allowed in any social network would invariably be a politically motivated move, that seeks to curtail fundamental freedoms of expression and association, as well as freedom of the press. As such we must ask what the real motives are for trying to constrain the numbers of connections to less than 50. Certainly there are those who would seek to limit and control politically motivated dissent and dissemination of information by limiting networks. It would be interesting to know who is really behind the move and what their political motives really are.

 

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