This weekend a friend asked me about alternatives to Facebook and Google owned platforms so I thought it was time to update and revisit my post on the topic from almost 2 years ago.
Also my old post is so far down my feed that its hard to find it these days and this issue is more important than ever before.
List of Alternatives to Facebook & Google Owned Apps
AKA Leaving The Matrix
In these days of Facebook & Google's rampant censorship (even of the President of the United States), privacy breaches, anti-competitive attacks on competitors and making billions off other people's work without compensation, a lot of people are looking for alternatives for their online lives.
As CEO of JPB Liberty which is bringing a class action against Facebook and Google for anti-competitive conduct I've had to find alternatives to Facebook & Google products for my personal and business online activities.
The bad news is that when you try to leave The Matrix, your realise how all pervasive Facebook & Google are. Its not so easy to avoid their tentacles.
But the good news is that there ARE excellent alternatives. Many are feature wise or technically better and some will even pay you for your online activities.
Many of these are decentralised crypto based projects that can never be taken over or bought by Facebook, Google or anyone.
I've set out these alternatives below so you can try them and free yourself from The Matrix
Email - ProtonMail
Email is the oldest but still one of the most essential online services and Gmail has dominated this space for years. This means they can scan every email you send or receive and it adds to their big data picture of your life and the life of everyone around you.
Email is also generally insecure and subject to interception, phishing scams etc.
While there are many email alternatives, I've found that the best is the Swiss based ProtonMail.
It provides complete privacy and security using PGP based end-to-end encryption and digital signatures.
It makes encryption easy for anyone to use and has iPhone & Android Apps and integration with Windows & OSX mail applications.
I've been using ProtonMail for over 2 years now and am very happy with it.
ProtonMail also has an excellent VPN and now has a secure calendar sharing function.
Web Browser - Brave
The second oldest and essential way we interact with the online world is via the web browser.
There are a range of options, but again Google has a dominant position with Chrome.
Browsers have a big problem with tracking, privacy loss, pop-up ads and other annoying ads that disturb and distract our web surfing experience. But websites need revenue and advertising has been the main way to get it.
How to solve these problem? - Enter Brave, a browser which does an excellent job of blocking ads, trackers and all the other crap that tries to attach to us online while providing an alternative revenue model (the BAT token) for websites.
I've been happily using Brave for about 3 years now and have had 1.8 million ads and trackers blocked by Brave, just on the current version since I upgraded. I've also automatically made micropayments of BAT to the websites I use the most.
There is now cryptocurrency wallet integration and the ability to get paid (in BAT) for viewing certain Brave approved ads.
Web Search - PreSearch & DuckDuckGo
The third oldest and essential way we interact with the online world is by using web search engines. Google completely dominates this space and with it the ability to control your information flows, track you and harvest your data, which they sell to advertisers.
I've been using the privacy focussed search engine DuckDuckGo for years now and have been very happy with it. They don't track you, follow you around with ads or store your personal information.
2 years ago I discovered PreSearch which is a decentralised project which PAYS YOU (in the PRE token) for every search you do using your preferred search engine (eg DuckDuckGo). I used it for a while but the amount you earn is miniscule and they kept changing the login process so I just reverted to DuckDuckGo.
Instant messaging has become an essential form of communications over the past few years and the space is dominated by WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and Facebook messaging.
Fortunately Telegram is a big competitor (400M users) to WhatsApp which is privacy focussed and promises to remain independent.
Telegram expects to release group video calls (ie a secure version of Zoom) later this year and its already in Beta on iOS.
I have also recently started to use Signal, which is a favourite in Silicon Valley and of those needing ultra-secure end-to-end encryption for everything. I've been pleasantly surprised at the ease of use and find the encrypted voice calls have better quality than on a regular cellphone call.
Although not as popular as Telegram it has a substantial user base and I've found quite a few people I know, including many not on Telegram.
Together they cover a large percentage of my contacts.
Video Sharing has replaced television as the main method we view video content.
Youtube, owned by Google, completely dominates this space and has been abusing its power by censoring and demonetising alternative views a lot lately.
There are many alternatives but I prefer decentralised ones that can't just be bought up by Google.
3Speak runs on the Hive blockchain and YOU GET PAID when people upvote your videos. It is censorship resistant and in the process of getting a more decentralised back end.
DTube runs on the Hive and Steem blockchains as well as its own blockchain called Avalon. YOU GET PAID when people upvote your videos. It is censorship resistant and a partly decentralised backend.
Sharing your content and networking with like minded people is an essential internet function.
Whether it be blog posts like this, your photography or art, or even short Tweets, this is has become the dominant public square and method of social interaction.
There are many alternatives, but because a lot of people use Facebook for this function, it dominates the space.
Hive runs on the Hive blockchain which means that its censorship resistant and YOU GET PAID when people upvote your posts.
There are multiple competing blogging front ends, the most popular of which are Hive.blog and Peakd.
I've been been blogging on Hive for 2 and a half years now and the fact that I get paid and I own my own content has inspired me to write much more than I ever did before. I've also found new communities that are interested in my views rather than annoying my friends with them on Facebook.
Even better, there are now many decentralised applications running on the Hive blockchain that you can access using the same login and using the Hive cryptocurrency you earned to buy things.
These include great games such as Splinterlands and EXode, Hive-Engine a decentralised cryptocurrency exchange and many others.
I have found that I am spending more and more of my online life on Hive based platforms.
I've also earned
Full disclosure: Brave link above is a referral link.