7 Best Facebook Alternatives That Keep Your Data Private | 2021 Edition

Facebook has recently been in the news for a number of negative reasons, including multiple privacy violations that have made it the subject of much marketing debate.

The Facebook/Cambridge scandal, in particular, had a significant impact on the company in the spring of 2018. According to the Ponemon Institute survey, users’ trust in Facebook took a 66% plunge after the revelations that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately acquired data on millions of Facebook users.

After this incident, many people began to think about turning their back on Facebook and switching to another social network. But exactly where can they turn to find the platform that takes privacy issues seriously.

The problem is there isn’t a true Facebook alternative out there. Of course, Instagram and Twitter are attractive options, but if either of those appealed to you, you wouldn’t be here.

Actually, there are plenty of good social media sites that haven’t got much attention yet. They are quite different than Facebook in terms of user-interface, profile, newsfeed, and privacy and security.

Below, we have put together a list of less-popular Facebook alternatives that offer a unique way of interacting with friends and family.

7. Vero

Active Users: 1 million+
Android and iOS

Launched in 2015, Vero markets itself as a social networking platform free from advertisements, data mining, and algorithms. It’s more like a photo and link-sharing service with simple and effective privacy controls.

The app’s growth exploded in March 2018, following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Vero added more than 500,000 users within a day and climbed from #566 to #1 on the Apple app store in a few days.

Vero is most popular among Millennials, with half of its users falling between the ages of 21 and 40. Once you join the network, you will see many cosplayers, skateboarders, tattoo artists, and makeup artists.

It’s a subscription-based service with no ads. Unlike Facebook, the website doesn’t collect users’ data. Although some usage data is collected to see how often the app is used, this option is off by default. However, on Facebook, you have to manually change the settings to turn this off.

Vero is currently on the track to success, and as it continues to grow, it will be intriguing to see whether the social network lives up to its hype.

6. Steemit

Active Users: 1.2 million+
Browser-based service

Steemit is a mix of Reddit and Quora that pays you for posting good content. It’s more like a blockchain-based blogging and social media website that rewards users with cryptocurrency.

The company focuses on decentralization and sustainability and does not gobble up users’ personal data and sell it to third parties.

All content published on Steemit are stored in the Steem blockchain and can’t be deleted by any central authority. However, users can moderate content to prevent plagiarism, illicit and unwanted posts.

Steemit has a unique reward system where both content creators and curators (who upvote, downvote, comment, and flag posts) are paid out based on the value they add to the platform. The more they engage, the more they earn.

If you don’t want to post anything, you can simply use the platform as a news aggregator or to get involved in conversations related to certain interests.

5. Nextdoor

Active Users: 10 million+
Browser-based service, with apps for Android and iOS

Nextdoor is a social networking platform for neighborhoods. It keeps you informed about what’s happening in your neighborhood – whether someone is planning a local event or finding a babysitter. It offers an easier way to connect with them.

While signing up, you need to submit your real name and address to the website. Anything you post on the website is only available to other users living in the same neighborhood.

All neighbors are verified, and communities are built by you and your neighbors. If nobody else in your area has joined the network, you can create a new community and invite your neighbors.

Nextdoor exchanges services with government/public agencies, such as the District of Columbia Board of Elections and the California Secretary of State’s office. These agencies gather voter-education data, such as voting areas and voter registration deadlines.

The company saw major spikes [in users’ activities] during disasters. In 2017, Nextdoor provided services to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to facilitate the geo-targeted emergency and disaster preparedness alerts through their platform.

Nextdoor has also partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to alert local communities about extreme weather incidents.

4. Minds

Active Users: 1.25 million+
Browser-based service, with apps for Android and iOS

Minds describe itself as a ‘Crypto Social Network’. It’s an open-source, privacy-oriented social networking service that has attracted quite a few users in the last couple of years.

The site is a mix of Facebook, Reddit, and Medium.com — it features timelines, profiles, and several content curation functions. The site rewards users for their contributions with tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.

The website is designed to be ‘anti-surveillance’ and provide more ‘organic’ results than Facebook. You can use tokens for advertising your own content: each token will get you one-thousand views on the social network.

You can also opt for a premium subscription that costs five tokens/month. It gives you access to exclusive content and lets you ‘banish all the boosted posts’ from the feed.

The platform also offers an encrypted messenger where you can chat anonymously (if you wish). Overall, Minds is built on a foundation of privacy, transparency, freedom, and democratization.

3. Ello

Active Users: 1 million+
Browser-based service, with apps for Android and iOS

What started as a “Facebook killer” has now turned into a Pinterest-like website showcasing photography, art, and web culture.

Founded in 2014, Ello is a publishing and collaboration platform that connects artists and designers. It provides a virtual workplace and contemporary forum for publishers, artists, brands, and their fans.

The service is free to use, and it claims numerous notable intentions as a social platform, such as never showing advertisements, never selling user data to third parties or advertisers, and not enforcing a real-name policy.

You can quickly create a profile based on your interests and the content you want to see. There is no need to fill where you attended school and who you work for. Once you are done, Ello will show you content that might appeal to your interests.

Like other social platforms, you can like, share, comment, and follow artists. Some notable features include emoji autocomplete, hashtag implementation, and NSFW settings. There is also an option to share and sell your work through the platform.

Read: 16 Best Netflix Alternative You Can Try This Year

2. MeWe

Active Users: 10 million+
Browser-based service, with apps for Android and iOS

MeWe has not yet received the coverage it deserves, especially given that the company’s advisors include the father of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

While MeWe covers all the Facebook basics, the platform prides itself on its Privacy Bill of Rights. It claims that

  • MeWe never shows users targeted ads.
  • All posts are displayed in chronological order – no algorithms decide what users see.
  • The site never tracks cookies or uses spyware to generate content about users.
  • The company never sells users’ personal data.

Unlike other social media platforms, MeWe doesn’t notify users when their contacts create posts. The network calls itself the ‘alternative to Facebook’, and focuses on users’ privacy rather than generating revenue.

You will see some ads on the website, but they are not targeted. To compensate for lower revenue, MeWe sells add-on services, such as Secret Chat that uses double ratchet encryption.

Read: 10 Beautiful Concept for a Redesigned Facebook

The Privacy Mail feature lets you communicate with members on mobile and desktop. It is similar to the standalone FB Messenger app. Each user gets 8 GB of free storage online storage for pictures, videos, and documents. Extra storage (50 GB) will cost you $4.99/month, which I don’t think you will ever need.

1. Mastodon

Active Users: 2 million+
Browser-based service, with apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows and macOS

Mastodon is an open-source social networking service launched in 2017. Similar to Tumblr and Twitter, you can make profiles and publish anything you want — texts, pictures, videos, and links — and of course, follow other users.

Unlike other platforms, Mastodon is decentralized: there is no one person or company running it. Users can create and run their own server of Mastodon.

When someone creates their own version of Mastodon [with their own set of rules], this is called ‘instance’. All instances are moderated by the community that creates them; not some large organization that collects your data.

Users within an instance can follow each other, and they can also decide to follow members within other instances. Therefore, while all instances are privately operated, their users can still communicate with users of other servers seamlessly.

Read: 14 Good Reddit Alternatives You Should Check Out

Users’ feeds are ad-free, chronological, and non-algorithmic – only you decide what you want to see. Mastodon also comes with effective anti-abuse tools to help moderators safely operate instances.

And since it’s a decentralized network, it can’t be sold or completely blocked by governments.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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