Five Facebook Alternatives for Those Who Are Looking to Switch

So, you’ve finally had enough of Facebook – privacy issues, time drains, relationship-straining political debates, and all the rest. Still, social media is a valuable tool, so what are your other options?

There are always Twitter and Google+, but if either of those appealed to you, you’d already be there. There are a few other options, though: social media sites that haven’t gotten much traction yet, but that offer better privacy and more control and just might help you to partially fill that Facebook-shaped void in your life.

facebook-alt-minds

Minds does a little bit of everything, and its open-source, privacy-oriented, community-owned platform has actually attracted quite a few users. It has most of the standard Facebook features – profiles, timelines, media sharing, messaging, etc. But it also has hints of Reddit and Medium.com, with its content curation features and emphasis on original blogging content (which can be monetized using the site’s cryptocurrency tools).

Its open-source code, encrypted messages, and zero-censorship policy make it a great place for anyone with slightly above-average tech skills, though these features also make it attractive to extremist groups (alt-right, techno-anarchist, etc.) who have found themselves exiled from Facebook or Twitter.

facebook-alt-mewe

MeWe hasn’t gotten quite the coverage it deserves, especially given that Tim Berners-Lee, one of the primary architects of the World Wide Web, sits on its board of advisors. Its interface is simple and intuitive, it covers all the Facebook basics, and it is dedicated to maintaining user privacy. It has advertising, but it is not targeted. They compensate for lower ad revenue by selling add-on services, like voice messaging and message encryption. It’s quite user-friendly, and you may be able to connect your Facebook and Twitter to it, though if this feature currently exists, it’s somewhat well-hidden.

facebook-alt-vero

In March 2018 Vero jumped from 150,000 users to over 3,000,000 in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data breach. The mobile-only platform is well-designed and has some great photo management tools, which may have led to the overall alternative/artistic vibe given off by the current user base. Their privacy policy is not as strong as some others, but they do give users plenty of control and eventually plan to charge a subscription fee in order to avoid advertising, though early adopters will get a free lifetime membership. The mobile-only platform and eventual need to pay for the service may turn some off, but Vero certainly shows some potential.

facebook-alt-path

Path was started in San Francisco, bought by Korean Internet giant Daum Kakao, and has a large user base in Indonesia. That’s complicated, but this network’s interface is not: it has a clean, simple interface dedicated to social sharing without bells and whistles.

It doesn’t seem as news-oriented or business-friendly as Facebook, which is a plus if you’re looking for a humans-only network. Another perk: you can share your Path posts on other social platforms, including Facebook, so you don’t necessarily have to burn that bridge by switching.

facebook-alts-diaspora

This is one of the oldest Facebook alternatives out there and also one of the most unique in terms of its setup. Rather than being owned by a single company, the open-source Diaspora software can be run by anyone who wants to set up a server. Users can choose which “pod” they want their account information to be stored on and set up an account there. Once their data is on that server, they can interact with any other user on the network, regardless of host location.

Diaspora has a pleasantly intuitive interface and supports cross-posting to other social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, their decentralization means that app development has been slow, which is a downside for mobile users.

  • Ello: originally a Facebook competitor, now more of a social network for artists
  • Steemit: a decentralized blogging/media platform, a little more like Reddit/Medium than Facebook
  • Sociall.io: a blockchain-based social media startup, currently in closed beta
  • Mastodon: open-source, zero-censorship Twitter, with a distinct subculture/techie feel
  • Gab.ai: Zero-censorship Twitter, but with an unfortunate reputation for being the home of extremists (particularly alt-right) who were banned from Twitter.

Realistically, Facebook has the advantage of scale – everyone is on it, and it’s not going to be easy to get enough people to switch over to a new network to make it a viable alternative. Networks that focus on niche communities may have better luck, but for average users, the best option is probably to pick a network that appeals to you, join up, explore, and cross-post with your regular social media. Like it or not, Facebook and Twitter are dominant, and any serious competitor is going to have to integrate with them to at least some degree to make switching a softer move for the users.

12 comments

  1. Isn’t participation in any social network ultimately a time drain?
    Aren’t all social networks prone to time-wasting, relationship straining political debates? Unless, of course, the moderators squash politics.
    Isn’t it the aim of all social networks to have people reveal private information about themselves in order to become friendlier with each other? Whether the five networks mentioned harvest user data is a toss up. Nobody has yet proven that they do but neither has anyone proven that they don’t.

    • For myself, I moved cross country in 2012, and Fb has allowed me to keep in touch with friends. I also make sure that only friends can post on my pages, and I enforce courtesy. People can have differing viewpoints, but disagreements must be thoughtful. I have had to block a few, but not many. Currently, I have Fb friends all over the world.

      As far as revealing all private information, hospitals and credit companies have a lot more that social web sites. Personallyh, I never post anything that I want hidden, but I’ve been stressing that to my friends since I joined Fb in 2010 (?).

      As far as “proving that they don’t” We can’t prove a negative. Trying something new, when things check out is better than staying with something that I’m not happy with, IMO. (not Humble Opinion, Lol!

    • It depends on your definition of time drain–I would classify mindless scrolling as a time drain, but meaningful engagement as a potentially valuable use of time. Up to a point of course, which is where the political debate bit comes in–it’s fine to talk about divisive topics, but the combination of filter bubbles and personal distance can create a pretty toxic swirl of controversy.

      You are right on that point–social networks have not figured out a way to facilitate more respectful interaction when it comes to controversial issues, and the solutions that have been presented are mostly quite top-down, though content curation through upvotes and other rewards have been partially successful democratic solutions to that.

      And as for data, that’s another issue that we can never be 100% sure about. Most of the networks above are privacy-focused, but pretty much any service out there can claim that they don’t harvest data. Since your data is an infinitely copyable resource, though, as long as they can disguise their activity you would never know you’ve lost anything. Blockchain-based social media is already getting off the ground, though, so that might successfully give individuals control over their data in the future.

  2. Great article, Andrew. I’ve shared it at privacy-focused subreddits and will share in social media shortly. Thanks!

    • I’m glad it was helpful! I’m actually subbed to r/privacy, so it’s fun to see some of my own work pop up there.

  3. Hola, I own the domain http://www.googleiers.com “Those That Google” and always thought this would be a good social site, I like google I do not give then one dollar have no ads on all my sites they give me #1 or first page for most
    I have had an offer from China for this domain a French speaking country would be best, hence the ‘iers’ ‘Those That….”
    Cheers

  4. I agree with Liz and will share it too, on my TL on FB is a mile long and I don’t share all I see but still enjoy what I have the time for, told twitter to delete my account two months ago, they haven’t! Still get friends requests etc, I pretty sure they shadow banned me for no reason at all, I hadn’t posted anything scurrilous, racist, used bad language etc at all annoying! It would be nice just to use one of these to keep in touch with close family and friends and keep the TL more manageable! regards, Ian.

  5. Wonder who gave gab.ai the “reputation” of being alt-right? (Twitter) I suppose a mention is better than nothing. Twitter bans people for disliking a movie. You can block people or words you’re not comfortable with, but without banning people for hurting your feelings. MeWe, been there for years. It’s a chaotic mess. Gab is self-funded by premium users. How are the others funded? If it’s free, then YOU’RE the product. Just because it’s not FB, doesn’t mean you’re safe.

  6. What makes you sure that the five networks you mention are any different in behavior from Facebook? Maybe they look good just because their ‘sins’ and transgressions haven’t been discovered yet.

  7. https://sidenet.com – a lightweight and privacy-focused social website. It does not collect any secret information, does not have games and news. Most importantly, it is oriented only to one-to-one personal communication with other real people.

Leave a Comment

Yeah! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Check out our comment policy here. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

Sponsored Stories