If you want to escape from the big five (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest) and their predatory data- thieving ways, there are alternatives.
These options may not have your next-door neighbour, that chick from the pub and Aunty Mary on it, but these non-mainstream groups have an appeal of their own. Less hacking, less data mining and freedom.
Edward Snowden has attacked Facebook as being ‘surveillance disguised as social media’ and theorises that the CIA and NSA track everything on the network. In fact, Whatsapp and Instagram are owned by Facebook, making it the most powerful social network in the world. There are theorists who believe social media is shutting out dissenting views and that we risk being controlled by corporates.
Despite this, people do like social networks and they do serve a need. So, are there alternatives to the big five?
The next-gen social network, MeWe have about six million members with plans to reach 500 million members by 2022. This social network prides itself on its extra privacy settings. They do not spy, track or share any of your data- ever. It also has a secure chat and texting app that remains private- no snooping from advertisers.
A Facebook alternative, you can join Vero and post pics, links and recommend things like movies and books. The best feature of Vero is that is uses no algorithms to manipulate the feed, so you simply get posts in chronological order. It’s free to join, for now. In March 2018, it had three million users. You’ll need a phone number to register, but you don’t have to use your real name.
The new (and improved) Pinterest, this network is for art creators and appreciators. You create a profile based on what you like and what kind of content you want to see. You can create and sell your own content too. Ello is free to use, they are ad-free, you don’t need to use your own name, and they do not sell data to anyone. This network is perfect for creatives.
This is a Twitter alternative. You have 300 characters per post. There is no censoring here, and it seems to have become an alt-right platform for profanity and hate speech. The founder, Andrew Torba claims that dishonest media have set up a smear campaign, but that Gab.ai is ‘above politically correct corporate agendas’. Of course, what you see is determined by who you follow but you can quickly form an opinion looking at the home page.
A great resource for Mums, Peanut allows you to connect via Facebook or Gmail. You sign up and connect with other mothers. This app helps to provide emotional support, allows you to swap stories and advice, and gives valuable discussion forums. You can swipe right on Mums you want to connect with; whether it’s similar regions, interests, children or scenarios, you’ll find a Mum just like you!
Real.Video / Brighteon
This site was started by Mike Adams from Natural News when he perceived that YouTube was blocking a lot of harmful misinformation he was propagating. Brighteon is largely population with conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine propaganda and other videos that further his financial interests.
There are three cornerstones for diaspora*: freedom, privacy and decentralisation. You join and choose a ‘pod’. These pods are a group of people who have some similarity. It might be a geographic closeness, a similar view of data security, or a similar need to cross post to other external networks. Once you’ve chosen your pod, you can create a profile. This can be a fictional profile, you don’t have to use your real name. Populate the platform with as much or little information as you want. Then, start following tags related to your interests. Share your first introduction post using the #newhere tag, and you are off!
There is no advertising, no corporates, no costs. You can report offensive content and it will be removed if deemed to be dangerous or hate speech.
Active in 170,000 neighbourhoods in the US, Nextdoor connects you with those who live in your area. While you may not become best friends, it’s a great network to join if you are involved in the community. Throw a street party, get rid of old furniture, find a local babysitter, or chase up the local council about potholes.
Giving social media back to the users, Mastodon is a free network. It’s built with open-source code, so developers can contribute to the software and help increase functionality. Started by Eugen Rochko, this network wants to ensure your feed isn’t controlled by one company or organisation. It’s more like an rss feed, where you can message anyone who follows you. You have to install the programme on your computer first, and then Mastodon will connect with other users.
Join a forum
While forums may have hit peak popularity ten years ago, they still serve a purpose. You can join forums about anything- parenting, health, exercise, weddings, outdoor adventures, hobbies, food… the list goes on. Most of these forums you’ll use a pseudonym rather than your real name, and most of the content on the forums will be quite specific to that interest.
These groups are ideal for very narrow ranges of conversation, but they provide depth of conversations and insights you may not get otherwise.