Are There Real Alternatives to Twitter and Facebook?

 

I turned on my laptop this morning to find this on bonginoreport.com, a favorite news aggregator.

When news broke yesterday, following the horrific events at the US Capitol on January 6th, that President Trump was being permanently banned from Twitter and Facebook, I was not surprised. I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner. It was done so for the flimsiest of reasons: that the President violated their “standards” by promoting violence. Of course, they provided no real evidence of that. They simply joined the mob and repeated the notion that Trump fomented – incited – an insurrection at the Capitol.

No serious person who has read or heard what Trump actually said believes that. It didn’t happen. Incitement, by the way, is a legal term of art. You can look it up.

But Facebook and Twitter obviously didn’t stop with President Trump. They appear to be conducting a full-on purge of self-identified conservatives. Others report a large loss of followers, including former Ambassador and Director of National Intelligence, Ric Grennell.

I didn’t lose anyone because I terminated my Twitter account before the election. The censorship was the icing on the cake. Twitter is a cesspool, a virtual Mordor of division, hate, insults, misinformation, faux outrage, clickbait, and self-promotion. And Facebook is arcing in that direction.

It wasn’t always that way. When I joined Twitter in 2008, I found it to be a terrific news aggregator. Facebook served a different purpose – it was a wonderful forum for finding, reconnecting, and staying in touch with friends. But even there, former Facebook friends are using the platform to push political narratives, pearl-clutch, and infect that forum with the same misinformation and propaganda featured on Twitter.

While you can manage your feeds to mute, unfollow, or remove friends – I’ve done that with Facebook – it saddens me that the over politicization of those forums have contributed to me losing a handful of friends over the years. Not everything is political, and we should not be judged solely by our political views. I have plenty of Democratic family and friends, from college professors to family. I love them all. We disagree – it doesn’t mean we’re enemies. We just place boundaries around our discussions.

I did leave Facebook for a while (I’ve returned, but I’m wondering why), and in doing so, exploring alternatives. Let me share my experiences with each of them, and you can decide whether to migrate there or not. Regardless, if you’re upset over “Big Tech” censorship, you should do something about it.

Parler.com: Parler is recognized, currently, as the “go-to” alternative to Twitter for conservatives, thanks in large part to conservative podcaster Dan Bongino, who is an investor in the site. Many of the center-right journalists I followed on Twitter have migrated there. It is a clunky site, with a laborious sign-on process. It is a work in progress, lacks a few features of Twitter and other social media, but it does give you 1,000 characters for your posts, versus Twitter’s 240. They had traffic issues last night (January 8th) with a flood of people checking them out or joining. You can find me there at @Bucknelldad. They don’t censor, so you will find some loony groups and others. Parler’s app for iPhone works well.

Clouthub.com: Clouthub works best on your smartphone – that’s what it seems to be designed for. The Apple app is smart and navigable. They do have some loony groups as well, but they are a free speech forum, so that’s to be expected. It has a nice newsroom function. Its channel function connects you with a compendium of conservative broadcast media. The downside is that I can’t figure out how to get past the promotional stuff on my feed. It is relentless. Building your feed to be something useful will take some time, more so than Parler, it seems.

USA.Life: This site bills itself more of an alternative to Facebook, and it certainly looks like their competitor. It has many of the same features as Facebook and other social media sites. The major difference is that it, too, is very political (conservative). And like the other site, it will take some time to build friends and followers. I was not successful in encouraging my Facebook friends to follow me there. People just don’t want to invest the time given their well-established Facebook feeds. I get it. USA.Life, unlike Facebook but liked LinkedIn (a professional, largely non-political site not discussed here) has a “premium” feature to subscribe. I’m there at @Bucknelldad. Oh, and USA.Life does not have an app – you’ll have to use a browser.

MeWe is the latest Facebook competitor. It is a nice site but the smallest of the entries. It is simpler and has nice group categories that are decidedly nonpolitical. It also has a “premium” function that it relentlessly promotes. It strikes me as the most likely potential “successor” to Facebook since it doesn’t focus as much on politics as USA.Life, but it has a ways to go. I am finding a few friends and others who have migrated there. They also have a nice app for the iPhone.

Spreely: I like the organization of the site, with your feed accompanied by the news. It also allows you to easily create pages, but I was unable to move my blog there, given the lack of space they provide. It’s not suitable yet for hosting a blog site if you’re into that. My only complaint is the slowness of the site – it takes the longest to get on, to sign on, and to load. Spreely also has a “TV” function featuring conservative media (NTD, an affiliate of the estimable Epoch Times, is prominent there). They have a nice app, but it doesn’t work well on an iPad – just the iPhone (for now).

Gab: I don’t like Gab. It has attracted too many nutcases and people with nefarious intentions. I’ll leave it at that. Maybe it has changed since I checked them out a couple of years ago.

There may be others (I’ve never figured out Reddit), and I apologize for not mentioning them. These are the ones who’ve captured the most attention, it seems. All have potential, but nowhere near the audiences yet (other than Parler) to seriously threaten the censorious Twitter and Facebook.

The issue with all these sites is that they remain relentlessly political; the one that can attract a “community” or personal “feel” may be more likely to succeed, at least the ones who want to become the next Facebook (no one should want to become Twitter). And also, will anyone be willing to take the time and effort to bring their friends and allies along, and be patient enough while they rebuild their audiences and networks? When I quit Twitter, I walked away from nearly 3,000 followers; I haven’t even reached 300 on Parler yet. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to build what I had at Twitter. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, given my experiences on Twitter.


Here’s another problem facing these alternative sites – they have to rely on “Big Tech” to publish and promote themselves. Their platforms rely on Google (note how Google is threatening to deplatform Parler from “Google Play” for their failure to censor as they do). So has Apple, apparently. Google, Microsoft, and some of their partners have a near-monopoly status for much of the tech architecture that we all use. Even Amazon employees are in on it.

Have you tried to “unGoogle” yourself? It is hard. I am in the process of doing that, but it will take some time. I now use Vivaldi.com as my browser (it is fantastic), along with DuckDuckGo as my search engine. I’m migrating my email to reagan.com, which is not free but doesn’t sell information about you. Rumble.com is emerging as an alternative to the censorious YouTube. and I’ve unsubscribed from YouTubeTV to moved to Fubo TV, which is slightly cheaper and features more networks (especially if you like sports). Building alternative sites is one thing – getting them to work and promoting apps and access is quite another. And let’s talk about our smartphones, and how those companies are censoring and tracking what we see and do with their app stores and whatnot.

So the world of social media, especially for conservatives, is evolving. The same is also true for broadcast media, from Newsmax to BlazeTV. There’s no shortage of alternatives, but again, they all pale in comparison to what Rupert Murdoch has built. My one big regret is that finding universal community forums where we can all communicate with each other civilly and respectfully may be impossible. Tribalism seems to be the order of the day. But we have the corporate media, which has monetized division, and Big Tech primarily to thank for that.

In the meantime, let the free market sort this out, and hope that Big Tech doesn’t destroy it.

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  1. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Minds.com is another one that I have toyed with.

    • #1
  2. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    I will try this USALife. I am already on mewe as John D. Martin. 

    • #2
  3. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Very informative @soupguy. I am not a social media user, so much of this fixation perplexes me.

    • #3
  4. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    cdor (View Comment):

    Very informative @soupguy. I am not a social media user, so much of this fixation perplexes me.

    Me neither.  I have never had any desire to share my personal life with others, so I tend to use social media only professionally,  for announcements.  I do write reviews for products and other things occasionally, but only when I have something nice to say.  I did once engage in some negative commenting many years back, and I regret that and won’t do it again.  

    Ricochet is pretty much it for me as a commenting and commentary site.  I find that writing long form makes me think a bit more before I hit the submit button.  

    • #4
  5. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I’ve never used Twitter and essentially never used Facebook, though technically I have a largely empty Facebook account.  So doing without is an alternative, at least for me.

    These are probably important platforms for some communications by public officials.

    • #5
  6. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    A few years ago, I did a post over on my own blog on why I am not on Facebook or Twitter.  Boy, did I make the right decision there!  I have never had much in the way of family or friends, until I joined Ricochet.  I downloaded the Parler app yesterday, but have not joined yet-I may wait for some of the dust to settle.  I intend to be incendiary over at RushBabe49.com, and so far I have not been blocked or molested in any way by the folks at Automattic, who run WordPress.  I did upgrade my site to their Business plan, so I could get more storage space.  Readers and followers welcome!

    I do intend to record all the stuff that is happening now, on paper, so it can’t be deleted.  I haven’t kept a physical journal for many years, but I am sure starting now.  Samizdat, anyone?  And I intend to shut down my personal YouTube site and gradually migrate my stuff to my Vimeo site.

    • #6
  7. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    let the free market sort this out, and hope that Big Tech doesn’t destroy it. 

    Yes, let’s wait for the Free Stock Market to make a dent in the market value of Facebook and Twitter.  From what I hear from people over at SeekingAlpha.com, there may be a bit of selling when the market opens on Monday.  They asked for it.

    • #7
  8. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    What I think will be interesting going forward into the 2022 midterm and the 2024 presidential cycles for political candidates in the primary season will be if any candidates continuing to be on Twitter (or, to a lesser extent, Facebook) suddenly becomes a net negative for them that opposing candidates in a primary can use against them — i.e., a politician who remains on Jack Dorsey’s site is framed as agreeing with Jack Dorsey’s cancellation actions against conservatives, and not simply as a rebuff to Trump (as with Twitter’s ban on the Post during the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the election).

    That would be the most likely way for alternatives to the current social media outlets to gain a foothold, at least in the political world. If politicians start paying a price for remaining on Twitter, or pundits or other outlets see remaining on Twitter as hurting their ability to monetize themselves or their websites among their target audience, then you’re likely to see a wider acceptance (albeit coerced) on the right to social media outlets that don’t target conservatives.

    • #8
  9. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Let’s get this post promoted to the main feed ASAP, assuming TPTB will go along…

    • #9
  10. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    I just gave this post a 12th Like. I can’t help people pack for a new home, although I’d make an exception for Barbara Streisand.

    Good luck to those that are looking for another social media website.

    • #10
  11. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Gab seems to be down and there is word that GoDaddy, which was hosting Gab, pulled the plug.

    Parler looks problematic.

    Parler is collecting people’s phone numbers and driver’s licenses and it still doesn’t guarantee who you’re talking to is real or verified. The dangers of entering all your personal information in an app that could be hacked/sold/used for Doxxing hardly seems worth it.

    Turns out, there’s a LOT more wrong and suspect about Parler than just that.

    While Parler touts being the only true uncensored platform for free speech….it’s actually more flippant and stricter than Twitter or Facebook ever was. FCC rules? So I can’t say or do anything on Parler that I can’t say on daytime TV? Parler is also against anyone posting “rumors” or whatever the hell that could mean considering the inherent vagueness.

    So much for free speech.

    The problem is: free-for-all or moderation and unless your legal staff is Google sized, shazam, you’re a publisher and liable. If you’re not Google sized, I’m sure Google/Face/Twitter’s legal staff would be happy, pro bono, to help make the case that you’re a publisher and deserve whatever Merrick Garland’s SJWs will give you.

    • #11
  12. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Bucknelldad: In the meantime, let the free market sort this out, and hope that Big Tech doesn’t destroy it.

    We don’t have a free market, we have politically connected monopolies and trusts.

     

     

    • #12
  13. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):

    Bucknelldad: In the meantime, let the free market sort this out, and hope that Big Tech doesn’t destroy it.

    We don’t have a free market, we have politically connected monopolies and trusts.

    To have a real alternative, it would require hosting that is not subject to corporate interference, though whatever the heavy duty equivalent of smart meters would be a vulnerability.

    • #13
  14. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Parler is collecting people’s phone numbers and driver’s licenses and it still doesn’t guarantee who you’re talking to is real or verified.

    I signed up to Parler with only an email address and a password. What am I missing?

    • #14
  15. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    A few years ago, I did a post over on my own blog on why I am not on Facebook or Twitter. Boy, did I make the right decision there! I have never had much in the way of family or friends, until I joined Ricochet. I downloaded the Parler app yesterday, but have not joined yet-I may wait for some of the dust to settle. I intend to be incendiary over at RushBabe49.com, and so far I have not been blocked or molested in any way by the folks at Automattic, who run WordPress. I did upgrade my site to their Business plan, so I could get more storage space. Readers and followers welcome!

    I do intend to record all the stuff that is happening now, on paper, so it can’t be deleted. I haven’t kept a physical journal for many years, but I am sure starting now. Samizdat, anyone? And I intend to shut down my personal YouTube site and gradually migrate my stuff to my Vimeo site.

    They are the folks who deplatformed Conservative Tree House. That major blog was given two weeks to move and they were able to do so but with a lot of work.  I use the WordPress blogging software on my own little blog (which has gotten worse with updates) but I would be careful about being dependent on them for a blog host.

    • #15
  16. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Gab is not down, and GoDaddy has not hosted it for years.  It IS getting hammered with a large number of new users, and since they deploy their own servers, they literally have to wait for the truck to show up.  IOW, patience.

    I’ve been on there quietly for a long time.  There ARE (or at least were) a noticeable number of actual racists and anti-Semites on the platform, or at least convincing trolls.  I don’t see them any more, since I got busy with the block button.  They may have been ‘diluted’ by more recent arrivals – at any rate – block early and often and things will look cleaner.

    • #16
  17. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Gab is not down, and GoDaddy has not hosted it for years. It IS getting hammered with a large number of new users, and since they deploy their own servers, they literally have to wait for the truck to show up. IOW, patience.

    I’ve been on there quietly for a long time. There ARE (or at least were) a noticeable number of actual racists and anti-Semites on the platform, or at least convincing trolls. I don’t see them any more, since I got busy with the block button. They may have been ‘diluted’ by more recent arrivals – at any rate – block early and often and things will look cleaner.

    Yeah, the pogroms went after the easiest targets first, which in turn resulted in a disproportionate number of undesirables; bitchute has had similar problems.  Both are very important as free speech alternatives and deserve continued support for that reason, but Rumble and Parler are probably more viable competitors for market share and as potential hubs for a broad-based, anti-totalitarian resistance….assuming Bongino is able to overcome these latest difficulties, and stay healthy.

    • #17
  18. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    cdor (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Parler is collecting people’s phone numbers and driver’s licenses and it still doesn’t guarantee who you’re talking to is real or verified.

    I signed up to Parler with only an email address and a password. What am I missing?

    The requirement to enter a phone number. Either they added that since you signed up or it seemed so natural you forgot it. DL isn’t there, so Vox was wrong on that. But don’t worry. Once you give them the phone number, for all practical purposes if they want you, they’ve got you. 

    • #18
  19. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    I will try this USALife. I am already on mewe as John D. Martin.

    How did I not know that JDM and HvA are the same person? Huh.

    • #19
  20. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    The enterprising entrepreneur with money would focus on:

    DNS services including Dynamic DNS

    Certificate authority

    Web front end to a series of local and distributed co-los

    Crypto exchange

    payment services

    then figure out how to turn it all into a distributed system which can fit on a raspberry pi and people’s home internet.

    • #20
  21. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    The enterprising entrepreneur with money would focus on:

    DNS services including Dynamic DNS

    Certificate authority

    Web front end to a series of local and distributed co-los

    Crypto exchange

    payment services

    then figure out how to turn it all into a distributed system which can fit on a raspberry pi and people’s home internet.

    A good list.  There’s a lot of relevant bits floating around out there from p2p, torrents, blockchain, etc.  The fun will be making it simple enough to be used by non-techies who want their freedom from Big Tech.

    • #21
  22. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Locke On (View Comment):

     The fun will be making it simple enough to be used by non-techies who want their freedom from Big Tech.

    My ear are burning.

     

    • #22
  23. Ida Claire Member
    Ida Claire
    @IdaClaire

    Another one worth checking out is Locals.com. It was started by Dave Rubin, and it is designed to foster conversations. I find the site a bit non-intuitive, and I think the search functions are a bit narrow, but there are thoughtful conversations that do occur there. 
    Yesterday Greg Gutfeld left Twitter, and this is where he migrated to. 
    Also, you can search via interests, which for me includes gardening.  

    • #23
  24. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Parler is collecting people’s phone numbers and driver’s licenses and it still doesn’t guarantee who you’re talking to is real or verified.

    I signed up to Parler with only an email address and a password. What am I missing?

    The requirement to enter a phone number. Either they added that since you signed up or it seemed so natural you forgot it. DL isn’t there, so Vox was wrong on that. But don’t worry. Once you give them the phone number, for all practical purposes if they want you, they’ve got you.

    Is there some requirement to give them an actual, valid, working phone number?  And does it have to be your own?  :-)  I might suggest the Capitol Hill switchboard…

    • #24
  25. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    I will try this USALife. I am already on mewe as John D. Martin.

    How did I not know that JDM and HvA are the same person? Huh.

    I am sneaky  that way. 

    • #25
  26. Bucknelldad Coolidge
    Bucknelldad
    @SoupGuy

    ADDENDUM FROM THE AUTHOR

    I wish I’d listened to this podcast by John Solomon, editor/founder of justthenews.com, with CloutHub.com CEO Jeff Brain before I wrote this (at least about CloutHub). What a terrific business model and vision. This may be the place to be. I encourage you to listen to it.  

    • #26
  27. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    A few years ago, I did a post over on my own blog on why I am not on Facebook or Twitter. Boy, did I make the right decision there! I have never had much in the way of family or friends, until I joined Ricochet. I downloaded the Parler app yesterday, but have not joined yet-I may wait for some of the dust to settle. I intend to be incendiary over at RushBabe49.com, and so far I have not been blocked or molested in any way by the folks at Automattic, who run WordPress. I did upgrade my site to their Business plan, so I could get more storage space. Readers and followers welcome!

    I do intend to record all the stuff that is happening now, on paper, so it can’t be deleted. I haven’t kept a physical journal for many years, but I am sure starting now. Samizdat, anyone? And I intend to shut down my personal YouTube site and gradually migrate my stuff to my Vimeo site.

    They are the folks who deplatformed Conservative Tree House. That major blog was given two weeks to move and they were able to do so but with a lot of work. I use the WordPress blogging software on my own little blog (which has gotten worse with updates) but I would be careful about being dependent on them for a blog host.

    I have not had any trouble with WordPress yet because my number of followers is in the hundreds and not millions. I am very small potatoes to them. And my blog is not just political. I have a significant number of pro photographer followers too. I do the photo challenges nearly every week. 

    • #27
  28. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bucknelldad (View Comment):

    ADDENDUM FROM THE AUTHOR

    I wish I’d listened to this podcast by John Solomon, editor/founder of justthenews.com, with CloutHub.com CEO Jeff Brain before I wrote this (at least about CloutHub). What a terrific business model and vision. This may be the place to be. I encourage you to listen to it.

    I’ve been on CloutHub for a few weeks. Lots of growing pains, and I have a hard time with their small (300 character) message size: by the time I’ve cracked my knuckles I’ve used half of that. (That isn’t necessary a good thing, but it’s who I am.)

    I joined CloutHub after hearing Mr. Brain on our own Dave Sussman’s Whiskey Politics show #270.

    • #28
  29. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    A few years ago, I did a post over on my own blog on why I am not on Facebook or Twitter. Boy, did I make the right decision there! I have never had much in the way of family or friends, until I joined Ricochet. I downloaded the Parler app yesterday, but have not joined yet-I may wait for some of the dust to settle. I intend to be incendiary over at RushBabe49.com, and so far I have not been blocked or molested in any way by the folks at Automattic, who run WordPress. I did upgrade my site to their Business plan, so I could get more storage space. Readers and followers welcome!

    I do intend to record all the stuff that is happening now, on paper, so it can’t be deleted. I haven’t kept a physical journal for many years, but I am sure starting now. Samizdat, anyone? And I intend to shut down my personal YouTube site and gradually migrate my stuff to my Vimeo site.

    They are the folks who deplatformed Conservative Tree House. That major blog was given two weeks to move and they were able to do so but with a lot of work. I use the WordPress blogging software on my own little blog (which has gotten worse with updates) but I would be careful about being dependent on them for a blog host.

    I have not had any trouble with WordPress yet because my number of followers is in the hundreds and not millions. I am very small potatoes to them. And my blog is not just political. I have a significant number of pro photographer followers too. I do the photo challenges nearly every week.

    The good thing there is an open-sourced version of WordPress that you can have installed on your own host, and substitute for the commercially hosted version.  Back up your files frequently if you think you might be victim of no-platforming.  From what I’ve heard the migration is somewhat of a pain in the rear, just because you have to handle more of the administrative tasks yourself, but not really technically hard.

    • #29
  30. Ida Claire Member
    Ida Claire
    @IdaClaire

    Re: “In the meantime, let the free market sort this out, and hope that Big Tech doesn’t destroy it.”

    You don’t like our policies? Build your own.
    Challenge met, Parler was built, and  became successful.

    And now? Parler has been destroyed. It is gone. Big tech conspired to kill this alternative. A monopoly destroyed the competition.  

    • #30