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Ready to Get Off Facebook? Reason Reviews 5 Alternative Social Networks.

Facebook, Twitter, and other mainstream social networks have their issues. Are these 5 platforms viable alternatives?

Zoaarts11/Dreamstime.com Facebook/Minds.com Wikimedia Commons Google Play Store Wikipedia Bennymarty/Dreamstime.comZoaarts11/Dreamstime.com Facebook/Minds.com Wikimedia Commons Google Play Store Wikipedia Bennymarty/Dreamstime.comFacebook can't seem to do anything right.

The social media giant has been the subject of countless negative headlines since the 2016 presidential election and the proliferation of "fake news." With November's midterms rapidly approaching, Facebook has taken steps to course-correct.

Earlier this month, for instance, Facebook deleted 559 pages and 251 accounts that it claimed were in violation of its rules against spam and inauthentic behavior. As Reason's Scott Shackford pointed out at the time, a number of libertarian and police accountability pages were included in the purge.

Some saw this move as a silencing of independent voices. To be clear, Facebook is a private company and has the perfect right to exert full control over its own platform. Even if the social network has a liberal bias—which CEO Mark Zuckerberg denies—Facebook is well within its rights to act on that bias.

It's not just Facebook. Twitter has been accused of leaning too far left as well. Back in July, I reported how the platform was allegedly "shadow-banning" some conservative leaders, meaning their accounts didn't show up when users searched for them in the dropdown bar.

Again, social media companies should not be obligated to treat all political viewpoints equally. Twitter can impose "shadow bans" if it so desires, just as Facebook can ban whichever pages and people it wants off the platform.

In that same vein, unhappy users are more than welcome to leave either social network in search of greener pastures. And many have, with alternative social platforms boasting millions of combined users. None of those lesser-known platforms has anywhere close to Facebook's 2.2 billion active users or Twitter's 335 million. Instead, those platforms say they shine in the areas where Facebook and Twitter fall short, whether that be privacy, decentralization, or a lack of political bias.

With those things in mind, I signed up for accounts on five alternative social networks: Mastodon, MeWe, Minds, Gab, and Vero. I'm not quite ready to delete my Facebook or Twitter yet, though that doesn't mean there weren't things I liked about each site. But no social network is perfect, as my experience with the five platforms highlighted.

Here's what I discovered:

1. Mastodon is all about decentralization. It's also a hassle to use.

Mastodon represented my first foray into the world of alternative social media networks. Founded in 2016 by developer Eugen Rochko, it was launched as a kind of decentralized version of Twitter.

Indeed, Mastodon is in many ways similar to Twitter. Users can blast out hashtag-filled "toots," which have a 500-character limit. "Boosts" are the equivalent of retweets, while a "favourite" is essentially the same thing as a like. Mastodon, like Twitter, is free to use, though the platform's privacy policy emphasizes that it does not sell user data to third parties. It's also ad-free, which probably explains the crowd-funded platform's Patreon page.

The main practical difference between Mastodon and Twitter is that Mastodon is powered by open-source software. It's comprised of many different servers, or "instances," each one catered to a particular interest. The servers are all run independently, and none of them look exactly the same. Since the platform is so decentralized, there's no official mobile app, though intrepid developers have released a variety of "client" apps.

Though each instance is different, the basic four-column layout—at least on desktop—is often the same. On the far left is a column where you can write a status and choose who can see it. To the right is the "home" timeline, which is the feed of content (status updates, boosted toots, photos, articles, etc.) from people you follow. Next is the notifications columns, which alerts you to what others are saying to or about you.

The final column lets users toggle between a variety of options, including the toots they've favorited, direct messages, and their "local" and "federated" timelines. The local timeline is simply a feed of all the posts from a user's particular instance. The federated timeline, meanwhile, includes public posts from everyone that users in your instance follow.

Mastodon is probably a lot of fun if you're tech-savvy, which I'm admittedly not. With over a million users and a handy function that lets you find people you already know from Twitter, making connections isn't all that hard.

But the decentralization part doesn't really appeal to me. At first, I thought one main account on Mastodon.social would let me join as many different instances as I wanted. But my Mastodon.social account ended up only working for that one instance. You can follow users on other instances and see/interact with the content they post. But to fully experience separate instances, you need multiple accounts.

After coming to this realization, I found an interesting instance called Liberdon.com and signed up with a new username. Liberdon is exactly what it sounds like: a community of users posting liberty-themed content.

Here's a screenshot of the Liberdon instance:

Screenshot via Liberdon.comScreenshot via Liberdon.com

I genuinely enjoyed Liberdon, but probably not enough to come back with any sort of frequency. I go on Twitter in large part because I can switch rapidly between trending topics. With Mastodon, it's much harder to do that. The platform is probably great for developers and those with niche interests. To me, the separation of the instances made that too much of a hassle.

2. MeWe's obsession with privacy means there's no one to connect with.

MeWe's about page notes it's a place where users can "connect safely" and "share confidently." The platform does seem to take privacy very seriously. You can choose who sees the content you post, and the site promises that user data is "free from tracking, spying, and scraping."

Like Mastodon, MeWe was launched in 2016, by founder Mark Weinstein. The site is ad-free, and users don't have to pay a cent to sign up. Plus, users own their own content.

So how does MeWe make money? While users receive eight free gigabytes of data storage for photos, videos, documents, messages, and the like, they can pay for up to 500 gigabytes. Other optional services include the ability to create private group apps and print off pictures at Walgreens pharmacies. There's also a paid "Secret Chat" option, which is completely encrypted so that no one—not even the platform itself—can snoop on what you're sending.

MeWe is in many ways similar to its main competitor—Facebook. Instead of friends, fellow users are "contacts" who you can request to connect with. Just like with Facebook, you can add information about yourself, in addition to posting status updates, which might garner a share, a comment, or a simple emoji. The platform also lets you update your contacts as to what food you're currently eating, what beverage you're drinking, what music you're listening to, and what you're watching.

Here's a desktop view of the platform:

Screenshot via MeWe.comScreenshot via MeWe.com

MeWe also has an official app that's available for download on the Apple and Google Play Stores.

MeWe's groups, meanwhile, are similar to Mastodon instances in that they're based off of different interests. Each user is able to join many different groups, both public and private ones.

One particularly interesting aspect of MeWe is the option users have to send disappearing messages in the chat. It's a feature akin to what you would find on Snapchat, and it certainly helps further the platform's privacy-obsessed marketing.

My biggest issue with MeWe was my inability to find any friends or acquaintances to connect with. When I tried to use the auto-connect feature to make connections, it turned out none of my phone or email contacts use the site. My lack of MeWe-using friends isn't the platform's fault, but it does make using the network a lot less fun.

Weinstein says more than 2 million people log onto MeWe at least eight times every day. While that's a lot of users, it pales in comparison to Facebook. And if you don't know anyone who's already on the platform, it's going to be difficult to break through the privacy barriers and connect with more people.

3. I expected Minds to be complicated and cumbersome. It's actually intuitive and tons of fun.

After my experience with Mastodon and MeWe, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Minds. Mastodon is similar to Minds in that both platforms are open-source and decentralized. And like MeWe, Minds emphasizes privacy. Minds is also trying to differentiate itself from other social networks that allegedly censor controversial viewpoints. "Minds is engineered for freedom of speech, transparency and privacy," the platform says on its funding page, adding that free speech on the network "is limited only by US law."

Founded in 2011 by a group that included current CEO Bill Ottman, Minds is unique in that it runs on cryptocurrency. The free-to-use platform has its own ERC-20 token that it either awards to users for free or sells to them in exchange for the cryptocurrency Ethereum. It's through these exchanges, not outside advertisements, that Minds collects revenue.

Minds' 1.25 million users, each of whom runs their own "channel," can receive some free Minds tokens by interacting with other users on the platform. Minds offers three main services where you can use those tokens.

First there's "Boost," which is the site's in-house ad network. If you want more people to see your content, you can cough up one token in return for 1,000 additional views. Spending tokens on "Plus," meanwhile, buys you access to Minds' premium subscription, where you can remove those in-house ads, become verified, and access exclusive content. Finally, "Nodes" is an open-source feature that lets users create their own unique Minds-based social network.

Moreover, Minds lets users exchange, or "Wire," tokens to each other. Users who choose to monetize their channels can offer exclusive content viewable only in exchange for tokens. Channels can also pay other users to promote their content.

Again, I had little to no hope of being able to figure out how Minds work. But the platform's ease of use was a rather pleasant surprise. I signed up on my desktop, though Minds does offer official mobile apps for your iPhone or Android device. Minds let me create a public profile, with the option to add a bio, as well as information about my channel's goal.

Like Facebook, Minds has a newsfeed that can be filtered in a variety of ways. The "Top" feed presents you with popular content from across the platform, while the "Subscribed" option consists of posts from people you follow. Finally, the "Boost" feed lets you see promoted content. Each feed can be further filtered by clicking on one or more hashtags.

This is how the main homepage shows up on my desktop:

Screenshot via Minds.comScreenshot via Minds.com

Minds' use of hashtags is probably one of its best features. The hashtags are based off your interests, so if you only want to see content about music or politics, that's your choice. This makes it very easy to seek out relevant content and the users who create it, even if you can't find anyone you already know who's using the platform.

In addition to writing short status updates, users can post images, videos, and blogs, as well as join groups tailored around their interests. Users can decide whether their posts will be free to view or require payment in the form of tokens. Reacting to content is also simple: You can upvote or downvote, add a comment, or share the post.

Minds also has a chat feature that's similar to Facebook's. The main difference is that the chats are encrypted, so Minds recommends that your main password be different from your chat password.

While I understand the appeal of alternative currencies, I've never tried to acquire any of them. Since I'm not into cryptocurrencies, Minds probably isn't a platform I'll use terribly often.

But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate what the site does well. Before I signed up for an account, I thought it would be niche and hard to use. It was actually easy to both navigate the site itself and find interesting content. For folks in the crypto-scene, this platform will likely be very appealing.

4. Before it went offline, Gab was where the alt-right activists went after they'd been banned from Twitter.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba touts his platform as a way to "free humanity from the chains of Silicon Valley's data silo, psychological manipulation, censorship, and ideological echo chambers." To that end, Torba, who co-founded the social network in August 2016, says Gab's mission is to "defend free expression and individual liberty for all people."

At least for the time being, that mission is on hold. Gab has been in the news in recent days following the revelation that Robert Bower—who's accused of murdering 11 people at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synaogue on Saturday—frequently posted anti-Semitic content to the platform. Over the weekend, multiple tech companies, most notably the web hosting service GoDaddy, stopped doing business with Gab. Last night, the platform said it would be going offline until it could find a new hosting provider.

Before its temporary demise, Gab really focused on the alleged liberal bias of mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Gab was both ad-free and free to use, and Gorba says it "must be owned, powered, and funded by you—The People."

Though the platform was free, users could pay $5.99 a month for Gab Pro, which let them become verified, monetize their accounts, save posts for later viewing, create groups and lists based off specific interests, and post live videos.

Compared to the other platforms, Gab has a relatively small user base—just 430,000 people as of April. But there's a good reason for that.

Gab seems to be a gathering place for hardcore conservatives and conspiracy theorists like Bowers. That's not to say everyone on the platform was crazy, but in fighting the alleged left-leaning political bias of the legacy social media platforms, Gab ran into the opposite problem.

As Vice noted in April, Gab was an "echo chamber for the shady tribe of white-nationalists, anti-Semites, pro-lifers and 'meninists' known as the 'alt-right.'"

In my limited experience with the site, that's a pretty accurate description. I didn't follow very many people, so most of the content I saw consisted of posts that were popular across the platform. Those posts were largely about the failing of the mainstream media and other social platforms.

Plus, if my first follower is any indication, the site may also have had issues with keeping porn bots off the platform. The network developed an iPhone app, but was rejected by Apple due to porn on the platform.

For a time, there was a Gab app on the Google Play Store, though it was eventually banned due to alleged hate speech.

From a technical standpoint, Gab was actually easy to use. The app suggested people for you to follow based off who you're already connected with. Like the other platforms, users could join various groups tailored around their interests.

On Gab's homepage, users could see content from the people they follow.

This is what my home feed looked like:

Screenshot via Gab.aiScreenshot via Gab.ai

On the left-hand side of the page were various topics (music, politics, news, etc.) that users from around the platform could post content in. Those posts could be filtered chronologically, or based off what was most popular or controversial.

If it's able to find a new hosting provider, Gab may very well be back. Unless you subscribe to a certain radical subset of right-wing beliefs or are interested in seeing the feeds of those who do, though, it's probably not the right social network for you.

5. Vero

Unlike the other four platforms, Vero can appeal to all sorts of people. According to its manifesto, Vero wants personalize your social media experience so your connections aren't just friends or followers. The word vero means true in Italian, and the platform says it's aiming for authenticity: "A social network that lets you be yourself." There are no paid promotions or algorithms, and users see content in the order it was posted.

Launched in 2015 by Lebanese businessman Ayman Hariri, Vero is a subscription-based service, so it doesn't have to sell your information to advertisers. Vero's servers are located in the United Kingdom, and while it claims user data is encrypted, the platform also warns that it's not responsible for any data breaches.

Vero made headlines in February, when it started offering free subscriptions for life to the first million people who signed up. The Vero app, which is the only way you can access the platform, skyrocketed up the charts in the Apple and Google Play Stores. Soon, Vero boasted more than three million users. Due to what the company refers to as "service interruptions we experienced from the large wave of new users," Vero has extended the free lifetime subscription offer indefinitely.

With the massive wave of signups came media scrutiny as well, and the founder has been dogged by accusations of corruption associated with his family's construction business. The controversy slowed Vero's momentum, though it still has plenty of active users. And there is a lot to like. Vero lets you know which of the contacts on your phone are already using the app. Aside from that, you can search for people or pages that you want to connect with or follow.

And there is a difference between connecting and following. For the most part, you follow public figures or pages. That means their public posts come up in your feed, though not vice versa. Connections are people you actually know, though your connections are divided into three "loops": acquaintances, friends, and close friends. When you post content, you can decide how public or private it's going to be based on which loops you allow to see it.

Here's the best part: You know which people are in which loops, but your connections don't.

In terms of in-app experience, Vero is easy to use. Of all the main social networks, it's probably most similar to Instagram in that your feed normally consists of photos, videos, or some other type of media.

Here's the top of my feed soon after I signed up:

Screenshot via VeroScreenshot via Vero

All the posts from you and the people/pages you follow or are connected with are compiled as "Collections." There, they are sorted by date based off the type of post (photo, video, etc.) to make it easier for you to go back and access them later.

This is what the main "Collections" page looks like:

Screenshot via VeroScreenshot via Vero

Though I'm not a frequent Instagram user, I liked Vero. It's an intuitive platform that definitely benefits from the efforts to make it personalized. That being said, I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay for it.

That might be Vero's biggest obstacle: It's easy to get people to subscribe to something when it's free, but it's a lot harder to draw them in when it's not. Vero may very well have a difficult time when it starts charging people to sign up.

Final thoughts: There's a reason these sites don't have more users.

Probably my biggest takeaway from these experiences is that Facebook and Twitter are popular for a reason. Sure, they have their faults, but they're also very easy to use and they appeal to a massive user base.

Sharing a platform with hundreds of millions of users (or 2.2 billion, in Facebook's case), means it's very easy to make connections. No matter what your interests are, there's something for everyone. These alternative sites, on the other hand, seem to cater to niche interests. For those they're trying to reach, that's great, but it significantly decreases the number of people you can connect with. And while Vero isn't targeted to a narrow audience, it remains to be seen if people will actually want to pay for it.

For me, that's all a nonstarter. Facebook, Twitter, and other mainstream platforms thrive in large part because 1) they're free and 2) they make it so easy to reach an enormous number of people.

Do they bombard you with ads and mine your data for profit? Absolutely. But most users—myself included—have decided it's a worthwhile tradeoff. If the balance tips at any point in the future, it's good to remember that everyone has a choice about whether to stay on those platforms.

Photo Credit: Zoaarts11/Dreamstime.com Facebook/Minds.com Wikimedia Commons Google Play Store Wikipedia Bennymarty/Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Ron||

    I use Facebook since thats where all my relatives and friends are, the only reason I'm on facebook. I ignore all the other crap and don't even know how to get their news feed so no problem to me unless for some reason they start to deny me service

  • Jim Logajan||

    Usenet newsgroups predate the web and is a loose cooperative of private systems that still exists. Its distributed nature makes it almost impossible for anyone to impose central control. It has some technical limitations that allowed web-based centrally controlled forums to win the market, though others may reasonably argue other reasons exist for its faded popularity.

  • IJustWorkHere||

    Agreed. The alternative to facebook isn't some other social network to meet people; it is some other way to talk to your friends, relatives, and neighbors. In that sense, facebook is highly differentiated against twitter and all the services in the article, but not very different from several other things available to everyone.

    Ready to get off facebook? Email your friends. Call your mom. Peek over the fence at your neighbors.

  • *Cindy*||

    styx was my only subscription on minds. I need to check it out again.

  • PCGUY||

    Great write-up. Thank you.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    According to Howard Dean, Gab should be held liable for what its users do in real life.

    You are a facilitator of neo nazis and other haters. You should be tried for being an accomplice to murder. You're lucky shutting you down is all you get. A lot luckier than the 11 Jews in Pittsburgh were or the two African Americans murdered in Kentucky were.

    As a left-libertarian and member of #TheResistance, I want there to be only a handful of social media companies. It's simply too dangerous to allow something like Gab to exist.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I blame the Bill of Rights and the cowards who hide behind it.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    You just know he let out a primal scream when he hit enter.

  • Aloysious||

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    I don't know about Dean winning that one. You know Hillary trained to perfect her cackle, Dean was just raw unpolished emotion.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    We all know where this is headed. A conservative GoDaddy will spring up, along with a conservative Paypal. The left and the right will eventually become completely segregated online.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    The funny part is that the founder of GoDaddy was conservative. They turned into a Bay Area tech company wannabe after they went public.

  • Just Say'n||

    Same with PayPal

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Doubtful about the PayPal or any other competition. Too easy for the big boys to pay to have them regulated out of business.

  • GeoffB1972||

    Yep: it's good to remember that everyone has a choice about whether to stay on those platforms...

    Don't know that Milo and GayPatriot would agree.

    We really don't need any more social media apps. We really don't. Except that people who get kicked out of the walled garden need someplace to go. Maybe if we start complaining that the digital homeless should at least get a spot on the street in front of Twitter's headquarters... they should get that, being based in SF and all. Otherwise, social media stops being a place to get together with your friends and gradually becomes a place to network for the right kind of people.

  • vek||

    Well, since the leftists just can't help themselves, I guess anybody who isn't a Maoist is going to have to go somewhere else. Web hosting and payment processing are two main areas where they've really been going after people lately. Social Media sites themselves too of course, but that's really just a subset of website that needs to be hosted. Domain registrars too, because they've actually stolen some peoples domain names.

    I hope somebody does start up a good hosting service. registrar, and payment processor. If that happens, then at least free speech can continue on the internet unimpeded!

  • Rossami||

    Okay. Are you and Howard going to hold Facebook liable for what its users do in real life? All 2.2 billion of them? What about the 335 million Twitter users?

    And why exactly should this be limited to just social media companies? Are you going to hold the New York Times liable for everything their readers do? Churches, too? After all, we have to hold them liable for radicalizing their members, right? And of course, that means we need to hold universities liable for everything any one of their students ever does.

    Or maybe here's a better idea. Let's hold Dean accountable for attempting to exploit a tragedy for personal political gain.

  • Mesoman||

    Facebook and other Internet companies are shielded from libel prosecutions by a law that was created for platforms. But, as soon as they start censoring what is allowed, they become publishes. Hence they should (as other publishers are) become subject to libel laws.

  • Matthew Chalice||

    Why does Dean insist on being the king of idiot Twitter takes? He's not running for president, so why does he want to stay in the spotlight? Fucking attention whore.

  • Hidebehindyourcause||

    OBL I think you mixed up libertarian with progressive, because you are not one of us

  • Uncle Jay||

    Right you are, OBL.
    Free speech is much too dangerous to allow the unwashed masses to play with.
    Speech and information must be controlled by the ruling elitist socialist slavers who know what's best for the little people.
    It is only through the control of information and speech can we finally achieve the socialist paradise we all covet like they enjoy in Venezuela, Cuba or North Korea.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's comprised of many different servers, or "instances," each one catered to a particular interest. The servers are all run independently, and none of them look exactly the same.

    Hello FidoNet.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think mention should be given to Steemit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steemit

    It's a social networking site that uses blockchain to pay content creators and the platform itself for content--meaning that it doesn't depend on advertising for income. Not being dependant on advertising means that as it scales, its content considerations won't be subject to the concerns of advertisers. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. don't want gun content or controversial speech on their site because their advertisers don't want their advertising to be seen as endorsing that content. No advertising, no problem!

    Basically, views and upvotes for your content generate cryptocurrency. You also generate currency for yourself by upvoting and downvoting content. The platform has all the advantages of not having to bend to the concerns of advertisers, but none of the disadvantages of having to pay subscription fees. The big question, as with any social networking alternative to Facebook, is how to get your friends and family to switch now that everybody they know, including their old boyfriends and girlfriends from high school, knows where to find them.

    I don't have the answer to that question, but it probably depends on you getting the ball rolling.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    And with Gab going offline, I would expect an increase in the lunatic population of the Reason commentariat.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Aw, shit, good point. This place is already been in the shitter since The Age Of Trump began. Let' hope there isn't a fresh influx of garbage people.

  • BigT||

    Um, you're here.

  • vek||

    Gab should be back online in a couple days. The founder said they found a new hosting service that at least CLAIMS they're 110% committed to free speech. So let's hope they're truthful. Payment processing may be tougher. Amazingly a lot of people have had problems even finding credit card processors that will work with them, let alone any "more elegant" form of payments.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    What happens when the "alternative" social networks are deplatformed by the backbone provider?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    They become invertebrates.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    "No spine for you!!"

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's no need to worry about that in California because we're gonna have net neutrality.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    CA's social media is going to end up being post-it notes stuck to the high-speed train to nowhere.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I wonder if there's a libertarian argument for a version of net neutrality that protects people and/or companies from doing anything illegal from being de-platformed at the backbone level.

    Honestly, I can't think of a set of rules or regulations that probably wouldn't get abused or have some kind of unintended consequences, but I think it's a conversation worth having.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's the great thing about "net neutrality".

    It means whatever you want it to mean.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Sure, in this instance, I'm defining "net neutrality" as the backbone providers are neutral parties in disputes over aesthetic valuation of speech and irreverent content.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I was jk.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Oh NOW you get a sense of humor?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Probably not a "pure" libertarian argument, as "net neutrality" without either increased regulation or seizure of assets is probably impossible, but there are probably compromise arguments that use some libertarian ideas in support of a not-libertarian-at-all policy/law.

    But just making the argument at all is basically an admission that the "free market" has no real incentive to protect the interests of disfavored minorities, so the first step is probably the hardest.

  • vek||

    Yeah, what it really comes down to is the idea that in a Darwinian battle royale, somebody will step in and do the right thing... Which usually happens. The problem is in these industries that are either government granted monopolies, or near monopolies, that sort of thing doesn't always work out as well as one would hope.

    I'm not ready to pass any laws on that particular subject just yet... But if leftist interests push some of their deplatforming stuff much further, there may be enough reason to break some libertarian principles because the practical downsides are greater than the loss of principles.

    NAP is a GREAT thing... Except in all those situations where if you don't initiate force it will get you killed. There are always exceptions to rules, at least on a temporary basis, one just needs to be wise enough to know when and where it MIGHT be justifiable to do it.

  • ThomasD||

    Thanks Ken, that one made me LOL.

  • Longtobefree||

    "To be clear, Facebook is a private company and has the perfect right to exert full control over its own platform."

    To be clear, if Facebook starts to block only content from blacks, will you feel the same?
    What if only LBGTQetc members and pages disappear?
    What about the part where they use federal law to push off lawsuits on the grounds they are merely a conduit and do not exercise editorial control, yet spend millions exerting editorial control?
    What about private culinary artists that want to determine what areas they wish to express?
    What about whataboutism?

  • stuartl||

    Then I will stop using them. Libertarianism isn't that complicated

  • vek||

    I think it's more a matter of showing what hypocrites most of the Reason writers are. They'd be FLEEBING OUT if Facebook decided to ban all black people, and everybody knows it!

  • BigT||

    FB subject to public accommodation?

  • pardeep bhullar868||

    Amazing Information that you share with us thanks for sharing most valuable information.Keep Going the Good Work

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why is REASON not listed as an alt website for social media.

    We get all social up in here.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I think you meant to say "anti-social."

  • Juice||

    Actually, I was thinking of getting back on Facebook as ridiculous as that sounds. It's very difficult to do IRL socializing outside of social media these days. Everyone wants to make plans through Facebook. It's very frustrating. I was thinking about going on there, clearing out all the shit I put on there 5- 6 years ago (since I've logged in), keeping things very bare bones, and using it entirely to make plans to get together with people. All this just so I can know when someone's having a party or if I want to invite people over to our house or something. I keep thinking about it but I still haven't pulled the trigger. No one I know is going to use any of these alternatives.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Just create a fake placeholder account that you don't post to that allows you to message the central facebook planning page.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    That's what I do. I just get on about once a week or so to see if there are any events I want to attend, or to see if anyone had any major life news.

  • Longtobefree||

    Why would you want to 'socialize' with people who are addicted to Facebook?

  • Juice||

    They're not addicted (that I know of), it's just that FB is where everyone makes plans to get together.

  • CLM1227||

    Yeah... I missed 2 babyshowers because of my not being on that site.

    Tempting to go back, but I'm happier off it.

  • BigT||

    "Yeah... I missed 2 babyshowers because of my not being on that site."

    Feature not bug

  • Mesoman||

    IRL needs is what brought me to FB in the first place, when a forum of great importance to me moved there. Since then, I've found a lot of other good forums, and the result has been to make a lot of good IRL connections I would not have otherwise made. Most but not all of those connections are conservatives.

    FB is the only place you can do that. No place else has enough users. And that, the "network effect," is what gives them true monopoly power, which they are exercising to silence dissenters from the progressive pablum.

  • Jerryskids||

    Do they bombard you with ads and mine your data for profit? Absolutely. But most users—myself included—have decided it's a worthwhile tradeoff. If the balance tips at any point in the future, it's good to remember that everyone has a choice about whether to stay on those platforms.

    Lolwut? They've got that little ankle monitor locked on tight, how are you going to make them turn off the signal monitoring? Haven't they been caught numerous times hovering up data without permission? I've never joined a social media site but I'll bet they've got a fat data file on me just from my links to people who are on those sites. Somebody calls me or sends me a text or an e-mail from the same device they log into Facebook with and you think Facebook doesn't have that info cross-referenced with every other Facebook user who's ever called me or texted me or sent me an e-mail? Remember when there was that brief flap over the fact that the Facebook widget at the top of this very page was activated and installing tracking cookies when the page was opened regardless of whether or not the widget was clicked? Has anybody checked lately to see how that widget works now?

  • Juice||

    Facebook and Google are part of 99.9% of all websites and if you visit practically any website you'll have Facebook and Google (and maybe Twitter) cookies tracking you (if you let them). Google is part of most browsers now. And don't forget about your Android phone. Even if you try to avoid them, it doesn't matter. Now Alexa will be in some cars so they know what you're doing even when you're not home. It's amazing really. Like a combination of 1984 and Brave New World. I guess they both got it partly right.

  • vek||

    It's seriously fucked. I go semi out of my way to avoid a lot of this stuff, but to exist in the 21st century you basically just have to accept Big Brother watching you... I've been thinking about getting one of those cell signal blocking cases for my phone. TECHNICALLY some models of smart phone can actually be remotely activated even when they're "off," which is super sketchy shit. And Google totally tracks you even when you have location tracking off. So basically as long as signal is getting through, you never know if they're keeping track of your location, or listening in on the microphone. It's not like I expect the NSA to actually be paying attention to me or anything, but I just don't like it on principle!

  • BunkerBill||

    The free market will solve the problem, except there is no free market, ask Gab.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I don't think the government got involved with the Gab situation.

  • Just Say'n||

    Also, Operation Choke Point never happened (unless it's convenient to acknowledge that it did happen when it comes to sex work)

  • GeoffB1972||

    As Just Say'n notes, Operation Chokepoint made financially isolating legal businesses a way to win favor with regulators, not get cracked down on for restricting commerce. The government has everything to do with Gab's situation.

  • vek||

    It may not be the government Chipper, but if the kind of shit they're doing to Gab doesn't REALLY bother you, you're an idiot. When stuff like that becomes acceptable, it opens up the possibility of un-businessing (because un-personing people has been happening for a LONG time now) anybody that the establishment doesn't like.

    What if Reason gets on the lefts shit list because libertarianism FINALLY starts catching on 5 years from now? (Not gonna happen obviously, but it's a hypothetical! LOL) What if the long awaited "Libertarian Moment" was FINALLY going to happen, and the man comes in and takes out every libertarian site in the world because they're pushing "crazy ideologies, like believing in unfettered free speech and gun rights!"

    HELL, what if the left decides they don't even like certain strains of lefties... Like they decide to shit can Obama's website because he's not sufficiently extreme enough?

    You never know where this shit might go, which is why you must fight it at all times in all places and for all people. I'd LOVE for every single member of ANTIFA to slip and snap their neck in the shower this morning... But I'd still fight to defend their free speech, because I HAVE TO if I want to protect my own.

  • Mesoman||

    This is a failed argument, when companies have powers governments don't even have, and are big enough to enforce them. Ask Gab. Check out Facebook. Facebook can censor - government cannot.

  • Longtobefree||

    Or just drop all social media and converse directly with those humans you deem worthy.
    Sure, they may not number in the thousands, but they are real.

    What offends me as (almost) a Libertarian is that I have never had a social media account on any platform, but all of the social media platforms have a great big dossier on me from sucking up data from people with accounts who are also aware of my existence.
    In a just world, each platform would either not be collecting references to me, or at least paying me for the valuable marketing service of my data.

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    The only FB alternative that interests me is None Of The Above.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Gab was an "echo chamber for the shady tribe of white-nationalists, anti-Semites, pro-lifers and 'meninists' known as the 'alt-right.'"

    One of these things are not like the others.

    I think this speaks to how alt-right just means "person who holds wrong thought". Since pro-lifers are silenced on other social media sites and need to go to alternative sites like Gab. How many anti-fed or other unpopular people went to Gab and just got lumped in as "alt-right" because our journalist class is most defined by being lazy and reflexively regurgitating tired tropes?

  • Just Say'n||

    "How this Grammar School Teacher, Sister Maria, Attended the Notorious Alt-Right Gathering "March for Life"

    - Vox probably

  • Hank Ferrous||

    Is it funny, or sad, that Vice & Setyon don't know that meninist is trolling? Both, I suppose.

  • Banake||

    "Is it funny, or sad, that Vice & Setyon don't know that meninist is trolling? Both, I suppose." I laughed, I cried.

  • vek||

    Well, with the continued purges on Facebook and Twitter, I suspect Gab will become continually LESS extreme. I've poked around a bit, but don't post on there because I don't waste my time with social media nonsense anywhere.

    With Facebook now saying they're going to just start banning talk about guns... What next? Mentioning "lower taxes" will be banned in 2019? Who the hell knows. This will just keep pushing people to alternative platforms, and eventually Gab or some other company might hit enough critical mass to at least be mainstream-ish.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    As Vice noted in April, Gab was an "echo chamber for the shady tribe of white-nationalists, anti-Semites, pro-lifers and 'meninists' known as the 'alt-right.'"


    i.e. Trumpistas.

  • Rebel Scum||

    God dammed deplorables, I tell ya. We should un-person them immediately because tolerance and inclusion.

  • Hidebehindyourcause||

    Old Mexican used to be a fairly reasonable dude until Trump. Seemed to bring another side of him out that wasn't as obvious before.

  • vek||

    It's because he's racist, obviously. As a Mexican he can't get past the fact that some people aren't super stoked on the idea of bringing in millions of low skill immigrants... But since he racially identifies with them, it kicks up his racialist in group preference, hence he hates Trump.

    I'm part beaner myself, but I can get over the fact that I tan really well and decide that I don't want hordes of low skilled immigration, even if my great grandpa was from Mexico.

  • Mesoman||

    You make me wish for a "like" button.

  • Matthew Chalice||

    Just love how Vice lumps pro-lifers in the same category as white nationalists.

    To quote Michael Malice, "The corporate press is the enemy of the people."

  • Just Say'n||

    You are Michael Malice, aren't you?

  • ||

    Well, one group wants to treat people differently based on race. The other wants to impose a new special duty on certain people due to their biological sex.

  • vek||

    I'm fine with abortion personally... But I can understand why people who think they're an actual person aren't.

    OR people who don't want to pay for somebody else's abortion, like myself.

    OR even people who are okay with it in lots of situations, but think there might be some reasonable limitations.

    Like is killing the baby at 8 months and 29 days legit if you change your mind?

    It's a complicated issue, not all black and white. Not to mention weird shit like if a man wants to keep a baby, the chick can just terminate it anyway, whereas a man who doesn't want a child has no right to demand the women end it, BUT will still be held legally and financially accountable.

    So on and so forth. It's complicated.

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    Look Bub, seeing both sides of the issue is just gonna somebody hurt, unnerstand?
    Now pick a side and start flinging shit.

  • mtrueman||

    None of these applications are truly alternatives to Facebook unless one has the ability to transfer one's Facebook contact list into the alternative.

  • CE||

    Exactly. If you want privacy and the unfettered ability to post whatever you want, start a blog. And then hope they don't delist you. I guess you can always write it in your notebook if you don't are about people reading what you write.

  • CE||

    Exactly. If you want privacy and the unfettered ability to post whatever you want, start a blog. And then hope they don't delist you. I guess you can always write it in your notebook if you don't are about people reading what you write.

  • Banake||

    "As Vice noted in April, Gab was an "echo chamber for the shady tribe of white-nationalists, anti-Semites, pro-lifers and 'meninists' known as the 'alt-right.'"" 'Meninism' is not a thing. Man, Vice is such a joke.

  • KevinP||

    It sounds like Joe Seyton has become part of the left-wing echo chamber.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    " but in fighting the alleged left-leaning political bias of the legacy social media platforms, Gab ran into the opposite problem."

    More like, in fighting the left-leaning political bias, they painted a target on their backs.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "4. Before it went offline, Gab was where the alt-right activists went after they'd been banned from Twitter."

    Yeah, yeah, everyone you disagree with is Alt-Right. The description of Gab is the usual MSM propaganda.

    "Again, social media companies should not be obligated to treat all political viewpoints equally. "

    If they want to be social media companies, they should be subject to the same legal regime as all other publishers.
    They should only get exemption from that legal regime if they are legally obligated to be common carriers for user communication.

    I wonder.
    Does Reason also say that the phone company should be able to ban users with views they disagree with?
    Can any and every business ban users with WrongSpeak?

    "Twitter can impose "shadow bans" if it so desires"

    A libertarian might consider a 'shadow ban' fraud. Too bad there aren't any libertarians writing for Reason anymore.

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    I liked the idea of Gab, but dude, Gab is/was a hot mess.

    Gab mostly came across to me as trailer-trash conservatism. I had to go take a shower after I logged off.

  • vek||

    That's just because they're the first people to be purged, AKA the extremists. Once FB and Twitter purge several million more conservatives and libertarians, it will be populated by a more normal variety of such people. God forbid if the left steps up its own internal purges of other leftists too! That would make Gab a REAL fun place to shit post!

    Also, they should be back online in a few days. They supposedly already found another host.

  • Rick Stewart||

    Am I the only one who doesn't know what social media is?

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    You're soaking in it

  • CE||

    More like dabbling

  • CptNerd||

    You have as much "choice" as infrastructure providers like GoDaddy allow you to have. Kind of hard to have to build your own Internet if the big boys and their downstreams don't like you.

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    Politics is corrodes everything.

    If you let Facebook decide what you see, then it's a mess. If you take the time to follow exactly which contacts you want, then put everyone else into lists that you might view occasionally (or not at all), then Facebook can be a pleasant experience and sometimes useful.

    Despite having hundreds of contacts on Facebook, the only things I automatically see on my feed are from my groups and posts from less than a dozen contacts.

    Even though FB and Twitter are lefty, I'm guessing what they'd really like is for people to post recipes, pictures of their pets and kids, vacation photos, and maybe pics from the occasional p-hat protest.

  • khm001||

    "To be clear, Facebook is a private company and has the perfect right to exert full control over its own platform."

    I like how libertarians make false equivalences all the time, leading them to say something as stupid as the above.

  • CE||

    I'm seeing a false equivalency, but not in the first statement.

  • CE||

    I never joined Facebook so I don't need to leave, but it seems to me that people join social networks to be where everyone else is. So alternative social networks sort of miss the point.

  • epsilon given||

    It's highly disingenuous to blame the lack of ability to connect with new people on MeWe to their devotion to privacy. The reality is that you cannot connect to a lot of people because a lot of people aren't yet there. Social networks have a certain "chicken and egg" problem, where in order to be useful, they have to have a lot of users, but in order to have a lot of users, they have to be useful. It's a *very* hard nut to crack!

    (The exception to this is Twitter: there are a lot of users there, but it's still not all that useful....)

    Having said that, it's not *impossible* to crack: Facebook, after all, displaced MySpace. Perhaps MeWe will find a certain sweet spot of features that Facebook won't, or perhaps even can't, provide.

  • SaraDVL||

    I'm working in SEO company LinksManagement. We are doing search engine optimization. It is one of the digital marketing instruments. Also digital marketing include SMM, PPC, Email-marketing. SMM - it is social media marketing
    SMM promotion is an effective way to attract an audience to a site through social networks, blogs, forums, communities. SMM advertising refers to non-standard methods of promotion. Social media marketing is the most promising method of promotion. The main social network in SMM - Facebook. And it will be a big problem if it is turned off.

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