Are There Viable Alternatives To Facebook?

Category: Social-Networking

Are you interested in options to escape Facebook’s incessant notifications, creepy data mining, and its founder’s disdain for common decency, honesty, and ethics? Wouldn’t it be nice to just share photos, links, music, and news with family, real friends, and like-minded people without Zuckerberg’s surveillance and cajolery? There are some alternative social networking platforms that may suit your needs. Read on for the scoop…

Are You Salivating at the Thought of Leaving Facebook?

From the instant you log on to Facebook, you are bombarded with psychological manipulators that would have Pavlov’s dog cowering in the corner of the lab, drooling. Ding! Notifications about likes, reactions, comments, stories, ad nauseum, urge you to click on something that leads to another page, another ad, another psych prompt, “suggested” this and that, and down the rabbit hole you go. Facebook has raised the bar for increasing time spent on its site to a high art – or a debased low, if you will.

There are alternatives to most Facebook functions. Some are piecemeal, so you can roll your own social media toolbox if you like. But you'll have to find all the parts - connecting with the people and organizations important to you, messaging your contacts, sharing photos, posting updates, and getting news from others. Facebook is very good at all of those things, and its massive reach makes it easy to connect and communicate with family, friends, business acquaintances, and people you haven't seen for decades. I'm pretty sure that I'd never have reconnected with many friends from high school and college without Facebook. If roll-your-own isn't your thing, I have some all-in-one social networking alternatives for your consideration too. If you go down this road, keep in mind that you will have to rebuild all of those contacts and networks somewhere else.

Google Photos lets you store unlimited pics and videos for free if you are OK with having your images compressed to 16 Mpixels and videos to 1080p. You can always pay to store them at higher resolutions. Google Photos is available on iOS and Android for your mobile needs and contacts. Sharing images or videos with individuals or groups is easy. You can create albums and control who has access to them down to individual contacts, something Facebook does not support very easily.

Facebook: No Exit?

Getting your photos out of Facebook and into Google Photos isn't that hard. My friend Tara Calishain recently posted a great article on ResearchBuzz called "How to Get Your Photos Out of Facebook and Into Somewhere Else" which goes through the steps for downloading the photos from Facebook, and using Google Photo Sync to stash them in Google Photos. One nice additional benefit is that Google Photos uses AI and image recognition to index your images by keyword, so you can search your photo library by keywords, to quickly find all your cat pics and okra recipes.

Snapchat is great for sharing snapshots and video clips in “stories” that last a short time (up to a day). You can share your daily routine or vacation with individuals or groups, or with anyone on Snapchat. Unlike Instagram, Snapchat is not part of Facebook’s global surveillance net.

If you use Facebook Messenger, there are quite a few alternatives. Whatsapp is owned by Facebook, so you’ll want to steer clear, if your goal is to escape the clutches of that corporate behemoth.

On Android mobile phones, the Messages app can be used for sending and receiving text messages to individuals or groups. Apple's iMessage is great if your entire world consists entirely of iPhone users. It can communicate with Android users, but some of the features don't work across platforms.

You may like Signal the privacy-oriented open-source app for Android, iOS, and desktops including Windows, Mac OS, and Debian-based Linux. It supports one-to-one text messages, group chats, calls, multimedia sharing, and more. Unlike regular SMS, Signal encrypts everything, and you can even set expiry times of up to a week on messages.

For sharing news and other tidbits, Twitter is actually better than Facebook. For all Twitter’s many faults, it shares and spreads news faster than anything else. Unlike Facebook, Twitter delivers ALL the items published by the sources you choose to follow. Unless, of course, the Twitter fact-checkers decide to censor your tweet, label it as “potentially harmful, misleading, disputed or unverified”, or suspend your account.

There has been quite a bit of controversy of late, accusing Twitter of being heavy-handed or ideologically biased. Parler is a similar platform that doesn’t employ fact checkers or “deplatform” users for their views, and has recently surged in popularity. Parler claims about 9 million users.

Groups are a popular feature on Facebook, but you can find similar features at Google Groups, which lets members participate in group discussions, connect with people who have similar interests, email everyone in the group using one email address, and organize meetings and events.

Some Alternative All-in-One Social Networking Platforms

If you want an all-in-one social networking platform, there are several upstarts worth considering. The trick will be getting other people to join you on a new network. But according to a New Yorker article "The Limits of Friendship," your brain can't handle more than 50 close friends, anyway; the rest are acquaintances of varying distance.

MeWe is a privacy-protecting network that claimed about 10 million users as of the end of 2020. It basically has two channels: My World, where you can post things for other MeWe users to see, and Groups, where only contacts can see what each other posts. The interface is similar to Facebook, but unlike Facebook, MeWe has no ads, and does not mine or sell its users’ data. Also in contrast to Facebook, Mewe does not manipulate, filter, or change the order of your news feed.

I wrote about Mastodon and members of the Fediverse back in September, 2018. Based upon free open-source software (FOSS) and open communications protocols, FOSSy social networks can be set up and maintained by anyone who has a spare PC to act as a server. Besides Mastodon, which claimed over 1 million users in April, 2018, there are other FOSSY social networking platforms to suit every taste. Visit the Fediverse site to check them out.

Are You Ready to Walk Away?

For many people Facebook is a love/hate relationship. As I mentioned earlier, the massive reach of Facebook (almost 3 billion users) has made it possible for me to reconnect with old friends and schoolmates that I've not seen for 20, 30 or 40 years. None of the other social media tools that have come along since the invention of the Web have been able to do that. Myspace, Orkut, Google Plus, Friendster, SixDegrees, Xanga, Digg, Eons, Ping, Ello, Classmates and dozens of others have failed. Sometimes the privacy issues bother me, but even with a combination of the tools listed here, I would find it hard to replicate what I enjoy now on Facebook.

If you do decide to break ties with Facebook, you'll have to decide what to do with the stuff you've stashed there. This Lifewire article How to Shut Down Your Facebook Account gives advice on whether to deactivate or delete your account, and how to download all of your Facebook data before it's permanently deleted.

I'd like to hear from you! What is it about Facebook that bothers you enough to make you consider leaving, or switching to another social networking service? If you've already done so, how it is working for you? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "Are There Viable Alternatives To Facebook?"

(See all 31 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
05 Jan 2021

I have had a FaceBook account for many years. I use it now more than ever, but I still do not spend long periods of time there. I use it to keep track of (and to stay in touch with) my family and several friends. I do NOT have a FaceBook app, or keep a FaceBook Web Browser Window open. For me, FaceBook is a communications platform. I only say there what I would say when in public.

This year I have become more political so I have voiced my opinions on FaceBook for public consumption even though I suspect they were not heard by many people beyond my sphere of friends and family (but it made me feel better to be able to speak my mind). One thing I have always been careful to do has been to clearly state that the current post is my opinion, or when I posted something as fact, I provided my sources of information so anyone who reads my post could check what I said and decide its validity for themselves.

When I see a post stating opinion as fact, I call out the OP because I think it is very important that we all do so. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the community to fact check what they see, then support or call out the OP. If we all police ourselves FaceBook will not have to do it 'for' us, and we will have a better community in the end.

I think that we are all responsible for what we say and how we say it. I hear the term 'Politically Correct' bandied about in a derisive manner, but a little courtesy has never hurt anyone. We should all use it when dealing with someone with whom we disagree. A bit of courtesy may well go a long way to de-escalate a flame war (unless that is what you are looking for).

These are my thoughts on FaceBook,

Posted by:

Louise F Smith
05 Jan 2021

Google photos won't be free much longer. Starting sometime this year there will be fees.

Posted by:

Jim Seiler
05 Jan 2021

I opted out of Facebook years ago, and almost never use Twitter, Instagram and a few others for which I retain mostly inactive accounts. The worst of these, Facebook in particular, are not just dangerous, but "EVIL"! Can't comprehend why people post personal information about themselves, their families and particularly their children. Social media seems to have become mostly a device for the insecure to bolster their value of themselves, and for cowards to get a free ride for being as outrageous as possible.

Posted by:

Glen Cowgill
05 Jan 2021

Try printing one of your photos or worse yet try to get one of your photos on your computer and modify it to show a business what you want. Google will never get another one of my photos. I am tired of Google spies.

Posted by:

05 Jan 2021

Get - Proof of God at Amazon, could be the answer?

Posted by:

05 Jan 2021

I find Telegram a good alternative to WhatsApp.

Signal is good too!


Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

That's why I call it fakebook

Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

20+ years ago I was on a piano bulletin board that grew over time from a few of us answering one or two questions a week to a very large community. And with the growth came the flame wars that in turn generated the need for moderators. We can see the same behavior in multiple on-line venues - the relative anonymity provided by posting on Twitter/Facebook/et al seems to remove the restrictions of polite society that would be unthinkable should the "conversations" take place in person. The lost ability to discuss issues without rancor and personal attacks, the increased use of pejorative labels, and the concomitant polarization of our society are the affects with which we must now live.

As for Facebook, I stopped using or even checking it a few years ago, though I've not deleted my account. My wife does keep up with some family and old college & high school friends. I rely on direct emails to my friends

Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

Ok, Bob. Time for a complaint. I have been receiving your emails for many years and enjoy them very much. I realize you are ad supported, but recently as the ads pop in, all of the paragraphs are reformatted and what I am reading Zooms up or down somewhere and then I have to go looking for what I was reading. 30 seconds later another ad moves text everywhere again. I'm not sure what you can do to correct the situation, but I have literally given up reading some of your articles because I have trouble finding where I was. Help.

Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

As is so often the case paranoia reigns on this site. I am on Facebook but I don't spend much time there or over share personal information. Remember you are in control of this!

Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

Unfortunately for my circle of family and friends there is no viable alternative to Facebook. If you too hate the way they misuse personal details, you can use false personal details - it won't stop them selling your data, but it sure s
crews the value of what they sell.
Caution! I posted that my employer was the Peking Circus, and I promptly received hundreds of friend requests from nubile young chinese women, with click-bait photos.

Posted by:

06 Jan 2021

Whilst Facebook allows videos of a domestic dog having its left leg chopped off with a machete and a monkey trapped in a woodpile with a dog trying to pull it free with its mouth stretching the animal's arm almost from its socket and, when the dog gives up, the camera owner continues for many minutes filming the poor animal's attemps to free itself without success and the video closing with it still trapped..............


Can Facebook ever deserve the respect of right-thinking people?

Posted by:

Sarah L
06 Jan 2021

Darl, I use ad blocker on my desk top computer, and that clears away all those annoying ads. On my iPhone, I recently discovered a feature on Settings > Safari > Reader. If Reader is set on, ads are blocked, and the web page shows the text in an easy to read layout. Maybe one of those options will work for you.
Re main topic of face book, just a few friends are only there. The real importance are some closed groups (meaning a person must apply and be approved to join) that are about topics important to me. I do not know if those groups would move elsewhere. It is generally annoying, face book, cluttered, slow, and only interested in selling ads or selling information about us customers.

Posted by:

Kenneth Maltby
06 Jan 2021

Sadly it seems, this article confirm my view that Facebook is the only thing out there that does everything I want. Believe me, I would leave it instantly if I could find something remotely as good (like many others I'm sure). So far, nothing is but we live in hope. I've got into trouble re-posting or sharing stuff that shows the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians at the moment. Sadly I've realised why (Mark Zuckerberg) so I've had to stop sharing these but I still feel 'big brother' is on my shoulder now

Posted by:

Bob Kinsler
06 Jan 2021

I am going to age myself here, as I was once one of the host on the Chatrooms on the American Online site. That was some 29 years ago and we, as host had a lot of tools to keep folks safe and conversational wise to the rules we created in those group or topic areas.

It is to bad AOL does not reinvent those chat rooms again where discussions where constant like talking via phones but in words and abbreviations of the group. I would sure help out in those veteran issues I get involved with and solve within the VFW and VA networks.

Posted by:

Lance R. Ganassi
07 Jan 2021

As I've been saying for some time - "Facebook is evil"

Posted by:

Eli Marcus
08 Jan 2021

In a word: YES, there certainly are viable alternatives to FB.
I see a slow but definitely progressing trend amongst both old and young people to Instagram and Whatsapp instead of FB.
Personally, I have used FB primarily for advertising music events, and for finding long lost friends from the past... Unfortunately, FB keeps changing their look and feel too frequently, making things very hard to follow. The most recent layout change is so awful and disorienting for me, as well as drawing more CPU power and memory than ever before, that I simply can't stand it! I find it impossible to work with FB any more - it often freezes up my browser and my (Linux based) laptop...

Posted by:

09 Jan 2021

Could/should alternatives to Facebook (and Twitter, et al) give at least an honorary mention to being anti-social?
I was not much into the phones (from rotary to smart versions) either... ;)

Posted by:

09 Jan 2021

I like Facebook. It allows me to keep in touch with my family and a group of friends from a defunct support group. However, I limit the number of friends that I accept and I make my posts available only to Friends except for some photographs of non-personal things (my garden!). And I belong to 3 Groups. I'm well aware of FB's failings which I deplore, especially its Community Standards, but they don't seem to affect my small community.

I would be happy to move to another platform if all my friends did but that's not going to happen. I don't use a smartphone so I use Messenger to talk to my daughter, my sister and a Friend from Australia. And I don't have a problem with Notifications, that's how I know something is happening!

I think that people's experiences with FB would improve if they were more discerning in accepting friends.

Also, there is a group called Counter Social which sounds good but which you didn't mention.

Posted by:

14 Jan 2021

I am in need of some assistance, Bob.

It has now been TEN WEEKS since I was suddenly and deliberately banned from my Facebook account, with no reason or message proffered, I have tried every solution imaginable to recover it or simply to contact Zuckerberg's company (writing to @Facebook through Twitter, etc…) and I never get any answers…

At one point, I tried writing to all the Facebook emails I knew of. (The Christmas letter below will explain all the details.)

Do you have any solutions/contacts/suggestions?



Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

It has now been SEVEN weeks (!!!) since I was banned from Facebook, and it is my sincere belief that it would constitute A NICE CHRISTMAS GIFT for you to unblock my page before December 24, 2020.

Indeed, I think that my punishment has gone on long enough and that it is (beyond) time for to be reinstated,

I sent you a copy of my French “carte de séjour” for foreigners in France on the day I was banished. Please find enclosed a copy of my passport.

What's more, I was never told (never given any reason whatsoever about) what led to my banishment.

I was suddenly and deliberately blocked on November 4. At the time, I wasn't posting anything, controversial or otherwise, in public on my wall,

I was only having a PM / DM discussion with one other (single solitary) person, during which time I PM/DM shared a link with a (bona fide) Youtube video and a hyperlink or two from a serious and popular website owned by a professor of law.

Suddenly, in the middle of the Personal Message/Direct Message discussion, Facebook was gone.

Over the weeks, I have been contacted more times than I wish to remember by perplexed friends (FB or other) — sad, irate, and/or uncomprehending — who (reasonably) think that I unfriended them and wonder why on Earth I would do such an uncouth thing.

Now I think that I have been disciplined enough (again, I still do not know why) and I am urging you to bring this punishment to a prompt end.

Two days from now, it is December 24, and I think being returned to Facebook would constitute a nice Christmas present from you, Mr. Zuckerberg, and from your colleagues…

Erik [etc…]

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