More alternatives to corporate social media

I’ve deleted my Facebook account. My timing makes it look like the Cambridge Analytica scandal is my reason for leaving, but actually it goes much farther back than that. In fact, I never wanted to be on Facebook. I signed up because I was circulating a book manuscript, and many friends assured me that my “platform” (such as it was) would be a big factor for publishers.

I should have known better. After all, I was no newcomer to the online world. In the pre-Web days, I’d been a customer of MCI Mail, BIX, and “America Online” (the first Facebook, which tells the whole story, really). After that, I was on the Web from almost the day it existed, and I once wrote columns on “digital culture” for The Atlantic’s website. I was aware of Facebook when it was an Ivy League-only institution that the general public couldn’t join. And still, I signed up for a Facebook account.

If you’re looking for another way, besides starting your own blog here at, there are two robust platforms I recommend you check out: Diaspora (sort of like Facebook) and Mastodon (sort of like Twitter). Both of these services are in the form “federated” websites—you sign up with a specific server run by a volunteer, which makes you part of a local community as well as the larger global community. There are no ads, nobody “owns” your data, and nobody data-mines your data. It’s not an ideal setup (pure P2P would be ideal), but it’s vastly better than signing on with a profit-making corporation offering you a service “for free.”

The specific servers I’ve joined are (search for and (search for @ralphlombreglia). Those are both good bets unless you want a server outside the U.S., or a smaller community for some specific reason. The software is free, but you have to sign up, talk your friends into signing up, make a donation to your server, and turn these places into useful communities. That’s the only way this is going to work.



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