By now you’re probably aware of the various purges taking place across tech platforms and social media. Major companies have used the events of January 6th at the US Capitol as an excuse to delete users and deplatform businesses. But the scope of the purge has gone much further than removing calls for violence.
For example, 147 members of Congress are being blacklisted by banks, insurance providers, and hotel companies because they objected to certifying the results of the election.
The entire social media company Parler was shut down when Amazon banned it from its servers, while Apple and Google dropped the app from their stores.
Twitter executed over 70,000 accounts.
PayPal cut ties with the US President, as well as a Christian website that raised funds to send protesters to DC. Shopify removed accounts “associated” with Trump, and payment processor Stripe joined in the purge as well.
Facebook even suspended Ron Paul’s account for a time, before claiming it was a mistake. Ron Paul, keep in mind, has been an outspoken critic of this administration’s defense and monetary policies.
The message is clear: your access, your data, and potentially your livelihood is not safe in the hands of the biggest tech companies, which we have been conditioned to rely on. Express the wrong opinion, and you may be the next casualty.
What this means:
The good news is there are alternatives, and the purge has been a major driving force for people to move to alternative platforms.
For example, Telegram, a private messaging app which allows you to enable encryption in private chats, attracted 25 million new users in a 72-hour period. The app now has over 500 million active daily users worldwide.
Almost 18 million people downloaded the (arguably better) encrypted messaging app Signal between January 5th and January 12th– a 61x increase.
Meanwhile, Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s downloads were down about 20% week on week.
Facebook and Twitter just voluntarily handed market share to their competitors. From January 5-14, Facebook lost over $70 billion of valuation. Twitter lost over $5 billion during the same period.
Don’t go where you aren’t wanted.
Spy-apps that repeatedly censor and abuse their customers have faced calls for an exodus for some time now. But now a critical mass is actually moving, which makes it more likely that the amount of content and users will keep people engaged in social media alternatives.
In that sense, you could consider the purge a good thing.
What you can do about it:
The following are some popular alternatives to common social media platforms. Keep in mind that we aren’t endorsing or vouching for the safety/ privacy of any particular company listed below. The point is to start exploring alternatives so that all your eggs aren’t in one tech-company basket.
Social Networks Alternatives to Facebook and Twitter
- Gab.com – Similar to Twitter, Gab bills itself as a champion of free speech. It owns and operates its own servers, which means it can’t simply be shut down like Parler. But that also means the website is a little stressed at the moment, as so many new users flock to it.
- MeWe.com – As a Facebook alternative, MeWe’s main draw is that it does not share or sell user data. But it does state in the user agreement that it reserves the right to terminate users who post “hateful, threatening, harmful” content.
- Minds.com – This is a blockchain-based social media website which rewards engagement with tokens. Tokens can be used to boost your own content, fund other users, or redeemed for other currency. The website’s code is open source for transparency and accountability, and the content moderation policy is based on the First Amendment.
Private Messaging Alternatives to Whatsapp
- Signal – This messaging app is end-to-end encrypted so no one can snoop on your communications. And its technology is open source, so anyone who knows the coding language can check that it’s truly secure. Signal does require your phone number to use, but that’s about all the information it collects.
- Telegram – Plenty of Whatsapp groups are migrating to Telegram for privacy reasons. But it is important to note that only private messages can be encrypted, and even then you have to specifically select the “secret chat” feature.
Video Posting and Viewing Alternatives to YouTube
- LBRY.com – This is an open source, blockchain-based, decentralized digital content sharing protocol. That means anyone can use it to build apps that allow peer to peer sharing of digital content. But the main selling feature is LBRY.tv or Odysee.com which facilitate the video sharing and viewing portions of the platform. Unlike Youtube, you have ultimate control over your own content.
- Brighteon.com – Mike Adams, the creator of Natural News, started this video hosting website as a free speech alternative after he was repeatedly censored on YouTube and other social media.
Then there is Brave Browser to replace Chrome, Protonmail to replace Gmail, and plenty of methods to accept cryptocurrency, instead of using typical payment processors.
Clearly, this list is not exhaustive. And in the future we will be talking about more alternatives, and doing a deeper dive on their privacy and accountability. The point is you don’t have to allow these tech giants to have power over you.