Alternative Social Media Networks

There has been a lot of noise lately about a clamp down on alternative news via the big social media platforms (FB and Twitter), and indeed we have seen some very popular personalities get the heave-ho from their digital stomping grounds.  One such conservative commentator that got the boot was Milo Yiannopoulos, for something as mundane as bashing Leslie Jones and the failed attempt at re-booting the Ghostbusters franchise.  Post-election we saw a rise in talk about “Fake News” being to blame for the election of Donald Trump.  I could write a whole thesis on the election and why the Democrats were smoking crack if they thought Hillary was going to beat The Donald, however that isn’t the focus of this piece.  This clamor over “Fake News” was amplified by the dick-kicked European Union, no doubt because of the Brexit and then followed up by the populist revolution that swept Big Don into the POTUS-Elect position, when they demanded the big data mines curtail “Fake News”.  Now if you have half a brain and have been paying attention, you have likely had thoughts about bailing on the most popular social-ghettos in search for a home that lets you post anti-Clinton memes to your hearts content, bash liberal social-justice-warriors, or talk trash about Ali-Baba and his forty Jihadists.  Well here is a spring board for your search.  Take it as you wish, these are my observations only.

Steemit.com

Steemit is a social blogging platform (sort of like wordpress.com) with social media features that rewards content creators with “Steem”, a digital crypto-currency (ok this is a bit of a simplification).  You create content, and you get paid in a currency like bitcoin.  The street value of this digital currency fluctuates, but you can check it here.  Now make no mistake, it’s not Facebook, and there are a few things that I find concerning about the platform.

My first issue is that they require your cell phone number to sign up.  There are valid reasons for this during the registration process, such as for cutting down spam, but you could just as easily attain the same level of security by requesting an email address.  When a site forces me to provide a cell phone, it says to me that there is ZERO anonymity associated with the site.  It is popular these days to ask for a cell phone to help combat social engendering password reset hacks, but since the S7 network can be hacked with relative ease by any serious hacker, it is my opinion that the only valid reason for demanding your cell phone number is to simply de-anonymize you.  This is reason number one for not using this platform.

In the spirit of seeing what the network had to offer, I signed up, and after poking around I decided to delete my account.  I soon discovered (and verified via their twitter support account) that there is no way to delete your account.  This pisses me off.  I know of only one valid reason that a platform wouldn’t let someone delete an account and that is because they are trying to pad their stats to appear big so they can be sold.  Additionally, with this site, since content creators are getting paid in this digital “currency”, it may be that Steemit.com feels like they “own” the content you produce/submit and by not allowing a deletion, they keep you from making “money” and then taking down your work product.  Either way you slice it, none of this was explained in the sign-up process.  In fact, the whole process leads you to believe that you are embarking on an adventure that will buck the current system and help create something better.  Seems to me that you are helping create content for monopoly money, that someone else (a corporation) will wind up selling off and truly profiting from some day.

My last bitch about Steemit is a small one.  You can’t even set your own password.  You are forced to use their password generation tool when setting up or changing your password.  Now I get wanting to help people use a complex password, and I understand that it is important so people don’t get their Steem “wallets” jacked, but I’m sorry, I simply don’t trust you enough to use your password generator.  I have my own.

In short, I now have a Steemit account that I can’t delete, but I won’t be creating any content over there.  Best of luck to you should you decide to embark on that adventure.  I hope my concerns are invalidated.

Liberty.me

Liberty.me is a site that is set up with WordPress as a back end.  What does this mean to the non-techie?  Simply that the site is going to run a bit slow, however, if that doesn’t bother you, then this might be the digital home you are looking for.

Liberty.me brands itself as a global liberty community. They are attempting to bring together freedom-loving people from around the world. When you sign up, you get your own blog, access to hundreds of books, useful guides, live events, and tons more great stuff (their words not mine)!

Liberty.me has teamed up with Free the People Foundation, a community with a broad libertarian mission, an ethos open to the liberty-curious on the left, right, and center, and a vast network and expertise in outreach.  What that means to the future of the platform is beyond me, but good for them I guess?

So like Steemit.com, the primary function appears to be blogging with social capabilities.  Like Facebook, they have integrated chat, though it appears to be a chat room as opposed to a private message service.  They have groups you can join on numerous topics, and perhaps one could get lost in all the available discussions.  They even have a section for podcasts, though I haven’t yet discovered how to get my podcast feed to register in their podcast page.

All in all, I feel like this is a nice resource to dive into, and consume as well as write, in a longer form and for a specific audience.  You may find yourself getting more views than you would if you started your own WordPress blog (like I have).  I will pretty much say that you won’t find it as satisfying as Facebook or Twitter as it is simply not geared to replace either of those systems imho.

Gab.ai

I’m number 874,640 in the waiting list to get on this social media site… I guess that about sums up the experience there.  Gab.ai is supposed to be like a cross between twitter and reddit, which would be damn kewl if anyone could get access to the site and use the system.  Truth be told, they announced the system long before it was ready to capitalize on some news that Facebook was censoring conservative view points.  Gab desires to be a people first social network where users can post “Gabs”, which have a 300 character limit (twice that of twitter).  Users can follow and be followed back, up or down vote Gabs and all Gabs will be chronological when posted to a wall, like the way Facebook used to do it.

If they ever open the fucker up for mass participation before we all forget about it, it might be a kewl platform to work with.

Codias.com

By creating profiles on the site for free, and connecting with other users, publishing news and opinions, on cross-posting on other social-media networks, Codias wants to connect individuals, campaigns, and conservative organizations. For individual users, Codias will be a place to connect with like-minded Americans nationwide. As for campaigns and other groups, Codias could be a resource to build a network of supporters and volunteers.  Now the site says that this could be done securely, however I’d warn you to view any web service touting security with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The system seems to be much more geared towards social activities.  Posting links and connecting with people.  In this vein, it may be better suited to those looking to get away from Facebook, however, because it is very politically centered, those of your Facebook friends who don’t care or don’t share your political enthusiasm won’t find anything to cause them to move away from Facebook.  The interface is nice, and it’s intuitive.  It’s definitely more social than Liberty.me but I don’t think it is as active.  It could very well be a great resource for side stepping Facebook and Twitter censorship for the purposes of organizing, sharing, and informing your friends with the political penchant for activism, however, my experience has shown me that people tire of hoping between two places and tend to want a single port of call.

Keep your eyes on this one.

Ello.co

Ello claims to be “the only network designed for creators, by creators. A robust and growing community of artists, designers, musicians, illustrators, photographers, architects, GIF makers – creators, who understand that our process, practice, values and passions can push the world forward in a better direction.

Unlike the status quo advertising platforms that masquerade as social networks, Ello is not in business to harvest as much of your personal data and sell you as many ads as possible. As a Public Benefit Corporation, Ello has a legal mandate to never sell ads or personal data to third parties.

We believe your content and following are yours. We won’t throttle your stream or nickel and dime you to reach your following.”

If you are a creative type who wants to post your stuff and be creative, this might be for you.  It has evolved into a very “Pinterest” type of platform.  It doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter feel to it, but you never know, it may be exactly what you are looking for.  I probably wouldn’t go posting memes you didn’t create to it though.

Instagram.com

It’s owned by Facebook.  Nuff said?  No?  Well the kids be loving this one.  Why, I have no idea, but lord knows the youngsters take photos of themselves doing whatever and this seems to be a good vehicle to post, share and follow that sort of stuff.  Not so much if your bag is sharing news stories a la the traditional Facebook approach.  This one lends itself to being a primarily mobile platform.  Yes, you can log in via the desktop, but the interface is mobile centric.

If you are getting into censorship trouble on Facebook or Twitter, you aren’t likely to fair much better here.

Snapchat.com

Ok, I must be old or something because this one I don’t fully get.  Take Instagram and add the ability to use silly/wacky or “sponsored” filters to snap those “selfies” or video snippets and couple that with the ability to string them together into a “story” while limiting it to the mobile device and I suppose you have Snapchat.  It’s its own type of social platform designed to entertain friends and contacts, but you won’t be finding a whole lot of informative or quality programing.  I have yet to find it worthwhile for anything but using a stupid filter to do something insipid.  A Facebook or Twitter replacement, it is not.

Reddit

Reddit is huge, but they aren’t without censorship.  Its far less graphically appealing than Facebook or Twitter and harkens back to the old discussion board days of dial up BBS systems.  It’s a great place to get info, but the Facebook and Twitter aficionado isn’t likely to find it a suitable replacement.

Newsvine

A neat way to get news brought to you.  If you are sick of Facebook censoring what you are seeing and are looking to get a wider, and more diverse swath of news directed to you, this might be your bag.  On newsvine you can join “nations” (groups) and contribute stories and get fed stories.  Truth be told I haven’t really used the site, but if I wanted to get out of Facebook and get something to supplement the Drudge Report, I could see this being a great way to go (if I can just figure out how to get rid of the green background)

Diaspora

I had high hopes for Diaspora when it first hit the scene.  The idea of decentralized social media was one that I could get into.  Unfortunately, it never really took off.  The idea was that anyone could set up a server and that you could communication with people on other servers and you would be able to take your profile down from one server and move it to another server if you wanted.  This way nobody could hold you or your content hostage.  NaturalNews is still running a server at share.naturalnews.com.  It’s a bit lonely over there but it is very functional, you can cross post to Twitter and Facebook if you care to.  It’s a great platform that simply needs users.  If you are looking for a Facebook clone, this is pretty damn close to it.

Minds

As far as current Facebook clones go this might be the best one out there.  It has a very nice mobile app, clean interface, Facebook and Twitter integration, and an active community.  Minds rewards people that are active with a points system that can be used to boost postings (either yours or others) so they get more views.  Now I can’t say for sure that when you boost that all your views are non-bot, organic views but the feature sure beats paying Facebook to get views on a post that are pretty much confirmed non-real/non-organic hits.  I did a test boost with a video for the blackmarketliberty.com radio station and out of 247 views, not one thumbs up or down vote.  So consider that for what it is.  I think I’d have to experiment more before I said for sure that the boost is all bot based, but what Minds does have is a good platform, nice interface, and it is responsive.  If I were to get rid of Facebook or Twitter, I’d probably post most of my shit on here.  It can take a little while to get things going, but it could be worth it.

Another plus about Minds is that it is based on open source software, so a tech savvy person could launch their own platform should they get the gumption.  Of course they could pay for a PHPFox license and do the same thing with a lot more simplicity, but we aren’t really focused on building our own site now are we?

This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are social media groups and platforms out there for just about every niche these days.  They all have their pluses and they all have their minuses.  The real measure boils down to does it work for you and is the price right?  These platforms all have a price.  Your information, your data, it is the currency that runs these platforms.  Don’t underestimate what can be done with that information, for better and for worse.

Regardless of where your digital home resides, realize that there is a huge web out there waiting to be discovered outside of the digital ghettos of Facebook and Twitter.

Let me know what you find.

UPDATE 12-27-2016
I was reminded this morning by a fellow Geek and co-worker that Google+ is still around.  We had a long chat about the service and I would be remise if I didn’t make an edit and add it to this list.  Google+, obviously owned by the behemoth for which it is partially named, is a fully capable social platform, and in all likelihood surpasses any on this list in the realms of technical capability.  It ties into Youtube seamlessly, Google Hangouts and its “circles” help you hone in and distribute that which is important to you in a creative and effective way.  In fact the “circles” feature is one that is somewhat cloned in some of the other platforms mentioned here.  So why did I not mention it in the main list?  Quite simply because I forgot about it and when I searched for Facebook alternatives, via a Google search engine it didn’t even show up on the list.  In fact, Google+ is a lot like Diaspora, a great idea, a great implementation, but somewhat of a ghost town.  But let’s assume that wasn’t the case.  Google, by way of Youtube has already shown its propensity to censor to an extent, granted I can still find things on Youtube if I look for them, I can say with pretty good certainty though, they do not let alternative news percolate to the top page where people that aren’t specifically looking for it might be accidentally influenced or tempted to watch.  Additionally, Google has been demonstrated tweaking search results during the recent elections.  Can a company like that be trusted as a social platform?  Probably not.  Does that mean that it can’t be used?  Nope, simply that you might find yourself right back in the same situation that you are with Facebook and Twitter, shadow banned into obscurity.