Towards a Facebook-less 2021

Published January 4, 2021, 10:26 AM

by Professor Rom Feria

This year, you may want to take a step back and reduce, or better yet eliminate, your Facebook, Instagram and/or WhatsApp, addiction. There are several reasons why you should leave all Facebook products, and the most common one is your online privacy — Facebook collects all your data, even if you are not using their services and applications.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Facebook designed their applications and services to be highly addictive: the more you use, the more data they collect, the better their ad targeting becomes, the more revenue they get. Part of the process of making you addicted to their products is by manipulating what you see when you visit their site or use the applications — it has been proven that the more negative the story or post is, the more emotionally engaged you get, which translates to you staying longer (by commenting/reacting or by sharing). Why do you think Facebook favors fake news? And finally, did you know that Facebook and Instagram are bad for your mental health? Anyway, here’re a couple of better replacement for Facebook.

Better Social Media Sites

There are two (2) social media sites that are fast becoming popular. These are WeMe and Vero. They are both free, but MeWe offers a paid upgrade that allows you to have more storage, access to premium items, etc. What makes WeMe and Vero better than Facebook is that they do not collect user data and do not control what you see on your timeline. Each has its own strengths, so it is better if you go check them out at MeWe.com and Vero.co. 

Organizing Events

Organizing community events can be done securely, without the prying eyes of Facebook, by going to Mobilizon.fr. This is a relatively new free, open source software (FOSS) that you can either self-host, or use the hosted service at mobilizon.fr. 

Community Communication

Even before Facebook ever existing, online communities have thrived using platforms that do not put members’ data at risk. Do *not* believe that there is no other option to do this than Facebook. As mentioned, before Facebook, there are online mailing lists — all you need an email address (and yes, you can use email alias from Simplelogin.io or AnonAddy.com to hide your real email!). Personally, I use groups.io. 

If you want a group chat option for your community, just create your own, secure, encrypted and public (or private) channel at element.io (which is using Matrix open source software).

Online Photo Sharing

Yes, online photo sharing sites existed before Facebook and Instagram. The most popular one was Flickr.com, before Yahoo! bought them. Now that Flickr.com is owned by Smugmug.com, its future is more secure and brighter. What sets Flickr apart from Instagram (besides the fact that Facebook owns Instagram and collects as much data as it could about you, and then bombards you with advertisement) is that Flickr is a true photo-oriented community. 

If you are thinking video sharing, Flickr has limited support for video, too. For serious video sharing, try vimeo.com. 

Securing Chat

If you are thinking of Facebook Messenger and/or WhatsApp, then expect your data to be collected every time you use it, too. A cross-platform secure and encrypted messaging service that is highly recommended is Signal.org. 

Accessing News

Take note that Facebook does not report, write and post news. Your friends post the news articles. News companies post the news — which are often on their own website as well. Here’s the question, why do you need to give up your privacy, just to find out the latest news?

I recommend using an RSS reader. There are several RSS reader applications available on all platforms. You can get your news articles direct from the source, without being filtered by Facebook! I personally use NetNewsWire on the Mac and iOS. 

 
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