Facebook hasn't been very fun for the last few years. From political fighting to fake news to privacy concerns, many users are logging on less and others are deleting their accounts altogether. For those who primarily use Facebook today but are looking for alternatives, we've put together a list of the best options—from the most popular challengers to a few of the latest upstarts.
While there isn't a true Facebook alternative out there, you're not really looking for that anyway. You're ready for something different—a social network platform where everybody knows your name and you won't get trolled for posting. The following social media apps promise features such as less ad targeting, less fake news, and more security, so users can share updates, read the headlines, and communicate with more confidence in their security and privacy.
SEE: How to update your privacy settings on Facebook (Download.com)
Pro: Twitter is a great platform to broadcast your thoughts to a wider audience and catch breaking news stories.
Con: Be brief because you're limited to 280 characters for status updates.
Twitter took Facebook's most fundamental feature—the status update—and spun it off into its own app. It's since become a platform for celebrities and politicians to post their every thought, photo, and video. Many of these become news stories in and of themselves. Speaking of news, Twitter has become an excellent news feed as most media organizations post breaking news stories there. Just make sure you're following publications you trust and avoid the comments and replies in most cases. On Twitter, you can also broadcast your 280-character thoughts publicly or make your account private so only the followers you accept can see your activity.
Pro: Instagram keeps you in touch with the happier/prettier/friends-and-family side of your social network.
Con: You'll still be supporting Facebook's bottom line, if that's something you're trying to avoid.
A lot of people who've fled Facebook have made Instagram their new home—and they haven't let the fact that Facebook has owned the service since 2012 stop them. Instagram is best known as place to post photos of meals, sunsets, travel, and pets. Many also post selfies that are so carefully edited that they're unrecognizable. Others post videos or Snapchat-like stories that showcase 24 hours worth of photos and video that disappear at the end of the day. Like Twitter, it's fun to follow celebrities on Instagram—and through their photos see how the other half lives. On Instagram you can post publicly, share Stories with specific friends, or post privately.
Pro: Snapchat is great for posting more private messages that don't keep a permanent record on the internet.
Con: Snapchat doesn't have a very intuitive user experience and it appeals mostly to a younger audience, who appear to be using it less since the advent of Instagram Stories.
Snapchat may have started as the anti-Facebook for a younger, more privacy-focused generation to send self-erasing photo messages. But it quickly became a more feature-rich social platform, full of goofy face filters, geographical photo tags, and short-snippet news stories from major media organizations.
Pro: Pinterest provides amazing idea boards to inspire your next outfit, meal, vacation, or wedding.
Con: Most ideas remain aspirational and too cost- or time-prohibitive to implement in everyday life.
Maybe you don't care what everyone in your "friends" group is thinking or doing every minute of the day. You've gotten enough of that on Facebook over the years. Instead you're looking for design inspiration for your wedding, recipes for dinner this week, and travel ideas for your next trip. Whatever your interest, you'll find it on Pinterest. One of Pinterest's more interesting features is Pinterest Lens, which lets you snap a photo of anything that appeals to you in the real world and then shows you how to purchase, create, or do it yourself. You can share your posts or pins publicly or hide your pins, or even hide your account from search engines.
Pro: LinkedIn is the go-to place to network with work colleagues and find new job opportunities.
Con: If you're using LinkedIn for messaging, don't be surprised if you're waiting weeks for responses, unless you're messaging someone in HR or a jobseeker who's on LinkedIn everyday.
LinkedIn is where you go to look for a job, but it's also a great place to network with colleagues, stay up to date on your industry, and follow influencers in your field, who can inspire you to take your career to the next level. Keep in mind, though, that LinkedIn is a professional social site, so your posts, whether they're status updates, photos, or links to articles should all be safe-for-work. LinkedIn allows you to control how others see your profile and network information as well as your profile activity.
Pro: Nextdoor is great for keeping tabs on people and activity in your local community.
Con: The neighborhood-focused app isn't useful for following civic, national, or world events and oftentimes attracts users who only want to vent about trivial things.
The Nextdoor mobile app for Android and iOS is a great way for people to keep up with the Joneses, the Kardashians, or anyone else in your neighborhood. Whether you want to make friends with your neighbors; are looking to easily sell your stuff; want to hire a babysitter, house sitter, or dog walker; or get informed about yard sales, what you need may be as close as a neighbor a few doors away. Nextdoor has also become a popular place for posts that alert users to nearby criminal activity and for sharing critical info during an earthquake or flood, for example.
To ensure that outsiders don't get in, Nextdoor verifies users' accounts after ensuring they live at their address by either sending users a postcard with a confirmation code or texting the code to a phone that's tied to their home address.
SEE: Best apps for securing Android and managing your privacy settings (Download.com)
Pro: Vero gives users greater privacy controls.
Con: Most of your friends, family members, and colleagues are probably not on Vero, so you won't be able to keep up with them through this social media app unless you can convince them to sign up.
Vero gives people greater control over who sees which of their posts. Organize your network by acquaintances, friends, or close friends and then select which users see your latest photo, song link, movie recommendation, or news article in their news feed. Users can also message connections in the app.
Pro: Minds.com has a lot of the features you've come to appreciate on Facebook and an encrypted in-app messenger to boot
Con: You probably won't be able to chat with most of your contacts on Minds.com because they're not on it
Minds.com has a lot of the features you've come to love on Facebook—the status updates, check-ins, photos, video posts, news feed, groups, blogs, and more—but on an "open source and decentralized social networking platform." You can also chat privately in Minds.com in an encrypted in-app messenger.
Pro: MeWe is the ad-free, spyware-free, and censorship-free social network.
Con: Most of your contacts are probably not using it and the ability to send encrypted chats over MeWe costs money.
MeWe bills itself as the ad-free, spyware-free, and censorship-free social network. Share your photos, videos, voice messages, GIFs, memes, and more to just one person, a specific group, or all your contacts. You can also send people disappearing GIFs and photos. Either way, MeWe won't track you. If you want to send end-to-end encrypted chats, however, it'll cost you 99 cents per month or $5.99 per year.
Pro: Ello is great for creative types, hoping to build brand awareness and sell their wares without being tracked—and you can remain anonymous.
Con: Like other upstarts, Ello doesn't have the critical mass of users that Facebook has so you'll have to be a pioneer.
Ello, created as a more private, ad-free alternative to Facebook, exploded in popularity in 2014 at the height of the Facebook real-name policy controversy. It's since morphed into a more Pinterest-like social networking platform for creative people: artists, musicians, photographers, and more to build brand awareness and sell their wares. What hasn't changed, however, is that unlike other more popular networking sites, Ello never sells user data, shows ads, or enforces a real-name policy.
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- Instagram updates app with 'You're All Caught Up' feature to fight smartphone addiction (Download.com)
- Facebook reveals that it's measuring you on a scale of 'trustworthiness' in its fight against fake news (Download.com)
- Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)