I was a bigger Twitter user than I was Facebook, but I was on both platforms. Like many, I enjoyed a lot of the conveniences and benefits each had to offer. Throughout 2020 things began to change and I eventually reached a point where I decided I needed to pull the plug on both accounts. It was a personal decision based on some issues I had with both companies releasing more and more policies that moved further away from being a platform (where they simply provide the capabilities at one end of the spectrum) to playing a larger role as content moderators (determining what content on their platform was considered appropriate). On the platform side, I loved what both had to offer, but with respect to their playing the role of moderator I found myself becoming more and more disenfranchised by the day. The more the tech giants began to censor content and promote only ideas that aligned with company policy (their way of thinking), the more I realized I needed to leave the platforms so that they couldn’t profit off my usage any longer. I know, I’m just one person so it will not make a noticeable impact, but I feel a lot better knowing I’m not aiding them through my usage of their platforms, a form of consent in my mind.
After leaving, I began to look for alternative options. I found Parler as a Twitter replacement (sort of) but it didn’t meet my needs so I kept looking until I found Gab. Gab is exactly what I was looking for in a Twitter replacement and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you Andrew! I was using Signal for secure messaging but when I discovered Jack’s connections I opted to move to Telegram for secure messaging. Finding a good Facebook alternative has proven more challenging. I tried diaspora and vero, but they were not what I was looking for. Eventually I stumbled upon MeWe and it seems the most promising.
I created a list of things that are important to me:
- Who’s in control of the content I see? Am I’m in control of the content I see or is the platform with its secret algorithms. If algorithms are in play, do I have the ability to configure them to my taste (i.e. toggle filters on/off).
- Freedoms vs Censorship. Where does the company fall on the spectrum of pure platform vs content moderator? For instance, does it censor content about the origins of the Corona virus or does it inject labels/links about “facts” on a particular topic as it deems appropriate?
- Data Privacy. How is my usage data used? Is my privacy important to the company?
- Transparency. Are the company policies transparent? Are their practices public? Is the code open source or proprietary?
- Reach. A social platform has more value to me the greater the reach. Does it have the potential to reach millions or grow to reach millions?