Facebook is facing the worst crisis in its chequered history of 14 years, as it grapples with allegations of a privacy breach and massive data theft of more than 50 million users by the U.K.-based data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Despite a lengthy explanation (which fell short of an apology) posted by Mark Zuckerberg, the fallout from the controversy continues, and important personalities like Elon Musk have joined the clarion call to #deletefacebook.
There is no denying that Facebook is immensely helpful in forging new bonds and rekindling old relationships, as well as keeping in touch with distant relatives and friends. However, if you are hesitant to use Facebook further and want to explore other options, here is a list of smaller, more private social networks that cater to different communities with common interests:
No advertisements, no data sharing with third-party apps, no cookies to track your usage, and no profile appearances in web searches. When you sign up on MeWe, you get up to 8 GB of free storage space, with full privacy assured- friends can only be added through an e-mail invite. You can share status updates, photos, videos, voice messages, upload documents, create events and special interest groups, and do a lot more, similar to Facebook. MeWe is accessible through mobile with its iOS and Android app.
If you are a total paranoid for privacy, then Diaspora is an even better option than MeWe. Once you click on the Sign-Up button on the landing page, you are prompted to select from a list of ‘pods’, which are independently run-servers located all around the world that together create a decentralized network. These pods are based on details like their uptime, location, a number of users and the services offered (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).
If you are confused, then you can allow Diaspora to select a pod for you and create a profile. Once you are done with that, you can follow people from all over the world (not merely from the pod you have signed up on). For additional security, you can organize your contacts, and also share things with only your family members or colleagues.
A smartphone-based social network (limited features are available on the web browser), Path is an ad-free service that allows you to record a video cover story (similar to Instagram), ‘check-in’ to different places, and share links to movies and music. You can search your timeline by ‘moments’, locations or special occasions like holidays or birthdays, and there is also a messenger for private chats, where you can share photographs, files, and audio messages.
Behance is a social network where you can showcase your creativity if you are an illustrator, designer or a photographer. After you have created your free account, you can share your work under your profile. There is also an option to create a group of images, videos, and other digital content through ‘Projects’, which also has an appreciation counter where you can see the number of people who have viewed your work. Behance supports various image and video file formats: JPEG, GIF, PNG, MPEG, 3GP, WMV, MP4. If you saved your video project as a MOV file, you can always convert MOV clip to MP4 and upload to Behance. The best thing about Behance? It also helps you succeed professionally, as many companies recruit the desired talent by scouting through different portfolios.
A networking site for budding musicians, Bandlab allows you to record or upload multiple audio tracks, edit them and publish your compositions. Registration is easy and once you are done, you can access different features like the ‘Mix Editor’ mode, where you can create rhythms by using virtual instruments like the piano, drums and bass guitar. You also have the option to check the site’s Loop database which has free sample tracks from popular songs, which you can include in your songs.
Goodreads is a fairly common and popular site with bibliophiles. Many book lovers whom I personally know have for all purposes given up on Facebook as well as Twitter and Instagram, devoting their entire social media energies on Goodreads. And why not? Goodreads is a utopia for any person who loves books. It lists almost every book under the sun, and has a solid rating system based on user reviews and feedback. There are specific groups catering to different tastes- for instance, if you are into subaltern studies, or want to explore in depth scifi literature, or books pertaining to the apocalypse, then you can find exactly the thing you are looking for.
Yet another option is to use BookLikes, where you can maintain a catalogue of books you are reading, have read, and want to read. You can rate the books, participate in group discussions, and follow different updates.
There are many people who love to tinker around with different stuff and indulge in DIY creations, and for them, Instructables is the perfect sojourn. You can search for projects related to woodworks, cooking, home hacks, mechanics, photography, electronics, and many more. The tutorials are provided in a lucid step-by-step manner with photographs by Instructables members, whom you can even contact if you have any queries pertaining to a particular project. A paid account will allow you to download and print the pdf files of the projects so that you can pursue them at your own pace.
As the name suggests, Cookpad is a social network for people who love to cook. You can find recipes for a plethora of homemade dishes, each categorized by cuisine (Indian, Italian, Chinese, Continental etc), meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert), ingredients (rice, egg, milk etc), and many more. You can favorite your recipes for later reference, follow members to get notified of the latest updates, and also chat with them through the app. Moreover, Cookpad also holds seasonal contests and hands out prizes for the winning members, thus giving you another reason to create an account.