Lyra Communications Releases a Service Which Challenges the Harm Caused by Social Media

London, United Kingdom, March 02, 2017 --( A neuroscientist and a software architect are working on undoing the harm caused by social media. They have just released Lyra, a service which respects language, communication, and the reader’s attention span. Breaking with social media tradition, Lyra is a nonprofit which operates ethically, is free from advertising, and puts control back in the hands of users.

It’s special to receive a handwritten letter from a friend. On the Web today, there's nothing like that experience. Messages are not shown with the respect they deserve, and news feeds are ruled by algorithms. Linguistically, social networks are the fast food of communication.

Lyra is a conversation service built for deep and meaningful conversations with people you care about. It does not aim to disrupt the industry, but rather to support and respect something which is as old as the hills: deep, meaningful, distraction-free conversation.

Lyra values language

Lyra takes care to display messages in a way that’s worthy of the effort the author put into writing them. It doesn’t force users to continually click “Read More.” The first-line-indented paragraph, a visual indicator which has stood the test of time, is used to guide the eye through text while keeping the display style compact.
Lyra values attention

Research in psychology and cognitive science points towards a worrying trend: using the internet is shortening users’ attention spans[1] and teaching them to find information rather than remembering it[2]. Most web pages contain a bewildering amount of widgets designed to capture attention and generate more page views. This constant effort to recruit the reward system can lead to problems with web addiction[3]. Lyra respects thousands of years of tradition: like a book, the service is designed to allow the reader to focus on the conversation at hand.

Lyra doesn't use popularity algorithms

Popularity algorithms homogenise discourse: they focus topics a smaller set of subjects, reduce diversity, and kill the long tail. They also create personal “filter bubbles.” On Lyra, users follow people rather than topics or “what’s hot” lists. Algorithms are no longer the brokers of fame and popularity: people are.
Lyra values privacy

Lyra doesn’t sell user data, or buy any data about user from external organisations. It does not use your activity or your profile to target adverts to users. A securely encrypted HTTPS connection protects private information from interception.

Lyra values control

Traditional social media networks don't give users effective and control over a) the audiences of their messages or b) their news feed. Lyra uses groups of people to control audiences and customise the news feed.

- When reading their news, users can select one, some or all of their groups to read news from. This allows fine control over the news feed.

- When a user makes a new conversation, they can select one, some or all of their groups as the audience. If the conversation is set to private, only people in the audience can see or comment on it. Public conversations are viewable by everyone.

There is a difference from other networks: on Lyra, groups are private to the user. Only a particular user can see what their groups are called and who is in them.

Lyra’s business model

- Lyra is a non-profit, and charges users the amount it takes to run its service and pay its engineers. This is currently £3 per year.
- Lyra is not seeking investment and does not need to find a route to profitability: its business model is intrinsically sustainable.
- Lyra does not display (or sell) advertising. Lyra does not earn money by collecting (or selling) your personal data.

The team

Lyra is designed and built by specialists with extensive experience in web development, cognitive science and online community building. Main contact: Dr Fintan Nagle, a research scientist at New College of the Humanities and UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Please write to


[1] Krishnan, S. Shunmuga, and Ramesh K. Sitaraman. "Video stream quality impacts viewer behavior: inferring causality using quasi-experimental designs." IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking 21.6 (2013): 2001-2014.
[2] Sparrow, Betsy, Jenny Liu, and Daniel M. Wegner. "Google effects on memory: Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips." science 333.6043 (2011): 776-778.
[3] Hadlington, L. J. "Cognitive failures in daily life: Exploring the link with Internet addiction and problematic mobile phone use." Computers in Human Behavior 51 (2015): 75-81.
Lyra Communications
Fintan Nagle
07828 155 587