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April 18, 2018

Facebook Alternatives?

By Rommel Feria

If you have been following me on Twitter, Medium, and, of course, here, you know that I have deleted my Facebook account last year. My Facebook account was inactive before that, i.e., no posts, and very few Likes. I also cleaned it up (deleted everything that can be seen on my timeline, even requested friends to untag and/or delete me from their posts and photos) before I went radio silent. So essential, I tried to keep my personal data to a minimum. Yeah, yeah, we now know, with high degree of certainty, that Facebook retains a shadow profile¹, even if you never signed up for an account! Yeah, that is how invasive it is. And as far as other Facebook products are concerned, I don’t have WhatsApp, and deleted my Instagram account. I just couldn’t trust Facebook, the company.

What are the alternatives?

• VKontakte. Well, I have heard from my editor, Mr. Art Samaniego, that the Russian equivalent of Facebook, vk.com, exists. I checked it out (without signing up), browsed through the Terms of Use, and tried (and failed) find the Privacy Policy. Based on the little I have read, it has the same business model as Facebook, except that it is Russian. Same business model, no go for me!

• MeWe.com. The closest I have found so far is MeWe.com. It has some of the features of Facebook minus the business model, e.g., no targeted ads, no algorithmic control of timeline (although this may be an issue once you start building your friend network), no psychological manipulations², and no tracking³. MeWe uses a “freemium” model, where it grants you a limited feature set for free, and charges for premium features, e.g., encrypted chat, custom emojis, and more storage space for your photos, files, etc. Essentially, MeWe is relying on users to pay for more features, beyond the basics. This is a promising alternative. Look me up at https://mewe.com/i/rom.feria.

• Vero.co. I wrote about Vero.co before. Whilst the provenance of the service is being questioned due to the founder’s previous businesses, it continues to be one of the good alternatives out there. Vero does not exactly attempt to be a Facebook replacement, but more of an Instagram replacement. Yes, no ads, posts are limited to Photos, Videos, Books, TV/Movies, Links and Place. Notice that there is no way to post fake news without tagging it as one of the six categories above. If you are on Vero, look for me there — though a bit difficult to find me as I am only “R F” there.
When asked by the US Senate and US Congress of any Facebook competitors, Mark Zuckerberg refused to name any, as he is scared that people will flock to these competitors.

I am happy that the National Privacy Commission of the Philippines is investigating Facebook on possible violations of Data Privacy Act of 2012⁴! This should serve as a notice to schools (paging the Philippine Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education), and government agencies, to evaluate their use of Facebook in disseminating information — remember, encouraging your users (and citizens) to go to

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