Think you’re ready to turn your back on Facebook? Here are some alternatives.
Facebook is having a rough week. The world’s largest social network has come under fire for allowing researchers to mine personal data and then use that data for political ads that may have influenced the 2016 election. Needless to say, that may pose a problem for people who still want to stay connected with friends and family, but feel Facebook is no longer a secure or trustworthy place to do so. Thankfully, alternatives exist. Let’s take a look at how you can stay social without a Facebook account.
Wait, what? Another Facebook product? Actually, Messenger is a totally different animal than Facebook proper. And if it’s among your preferred means of communicating with friends and family, here’s good news: Quitting Facebook doesn’t mean you also have to quit Messenger.
Indeed, according to Facebook’s own FAQ, Messenger will continue to work even if you deactivate your Facebook account. That means you can still text, call, pay and play games with all your contacts. If you’ve never bothered with the other social-media heavyweight, maybe this is a good time to start. Twitter is like Facebook writ small, with posts limited to 280 characters (recently expanded from 140) and a focus on hashtagging rather than people-tagging. Even so, you can use it to share updates, photos, polls and more with people you know, and it’s a good source for breaking news — though Twitter has yet to take any real steps to combat fake news, which is pervasive on the service. And it probably goes without saying that Twitter, like Facebook and many other social networks, mines user data for advertising and other purposes. But it feels a lot less cluttered than Facebook, and there’s a robust browser-based interface for people who prefer to network on their PCs.
With similarities to both Facebook and Instagram (the latter left off this list because it’s owned by the former), Path may prove a desirable new home for Facebook expatriates. Like Instagram, it’s an app-based platform, one that doesn’t work in desktop browsers (Instagram technically does, but you get the idea). Unlike Instagram, it’s designed less for following wide swaths of people and more for interacting with personal groups. To that end, Path invites you to share not only updates, photos and the like, but also thoughts, shopping finds and the latest media you’re consuming: books, movies, music and TV. You can even let your circle know when you’re going to bed and waking up. (Just be prepared for accusations of oversharing.) Remember how Facebook started out as a tool to connect college students? Raftr has assumed that mantle. But it’s less about friendships than it is shared interests, any of which can be the jumping-off point for conversation. For example, want to talk about life hacks? Air fryers? “Legion” season 2? Choose one of these communities — these “rafts” — or start your own. The service is accessible in desktop and mobile browsers, but there’s also an iOS app. Vero features a sparse, attractive interface that’s totally ad-free.
Vero originally planned to give its first million users a “free for life” subscription, but because of service interruptions owing to the heavy influx of new signups, the company has extended that offer to all comers — for a limited time. Pricing for the eventual subscription model has yet to be announced. Have you found a Facebook alternative you like? One of these, or perhaps a different network? Tell us about it in the comments!