You need a Facebook replacement. You know you do. Between the security breaches, the drama, and the privacy concerns, you haven’t really loved Facebook for quite some time. The only problem is that you don’t quite know how to do it.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Whether you’re looking to leave Facebook entirely or just want to make your profile more secure, you have options. You don’t need to be tied to Facebook or its unreliable privacy/security options anymore. At the very least, you can do a better job of protecting yourself. However, some people may indeed be able to leave Facebook for good.
Here are some social media security tips and alternatives for those who want to leave Facebook for good.
What’s Happening With Facebook?
On March 17, a story broke regarding Facebook and a data firm called Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge was caught taking data from millions of Facebook accounts to help shape certain political events.
The investigation that followed led people to realize the data breach was partially caused by Facebook’s lax privacy policies. This has inspired a wave of people to consider deleting their Facebook accounts in order to protect their data. Others are just wondering how to protect it.
That discussion was reignited recently when Facebook was found to have sent private user data to other wesbites. Along with protecting their accounts, this latest event has inspired many to leave Facebook entirely.
Can You Protect Your Facebook Data?
Anyone who tells you that you can completely protect your Facebook data is trying to sell you something. However, you can be cautious.
Here are a couple things you can do regarding the privacy of your Facebook data:
Download Your Facebook Data
Want to know most of the things that Facebook knows about you? There’s a way to do it.
First, go to Facebook while logged-in to your account and choose “Settings.” At the bottom of your page should be an option to “Download a Copy of Your Facebook Data.” You should then have the option to download the archive and then store it elsewhere.
Why would you want to do this? There are a few reasons. The most important among them is the ability to know what Facebook knows about you. You can probably guess they know your name and birthday, but what else is on there? Knowing the answer to that question can go a long way.
There’s also might be an advantage to having a verifiable copy of your data. If anyone were to ever claim they don’t know something about you and you can prove they did, it might be in your interest to do so.
Limit What Facebook Can Share
Go to Facebook settings and choose “Apps.” You should see an option for “Apps others use.” Choose “Edit” there and deselect every piece of information you’re not comfortable sharing with those who are technically allowed to access it. This is one thing that we advise all Facebook users to do.
If Facebook is the Problem, Then Shouldn’t I Just Delete My Facebook Account?
You certainly can, but don’t think that Facebook is the only problem.
The truth of the matter is that many companies utilize a similar data sharing policy. Even if they don’t, they’re still collecting and storing your data in some way or another. We don’t say that to scare you, but it’s important to realize the extent of the potential problem.
If you want to delete Facebook, do so. However, since it’s not practical to delete everything, then you’ll need to take some general steps to protect yourself.
Get a VPN
We’ve talked about VPNs before, but we can’t recommend them enough.
While a virtual private network can’t completely protect you, it can limit the potential damage considerably. A good private network is much more difficult to access and trace. It can’t do much for information already stored in services, but it’s great for protecting your general browsing.
You can find a list of VPN services we recommend here. As always, though, read up on each service a bit before you commit to one.
Use an Anonymous Browser
Not comfortable with using a VPN? Well, then you might want to consider a private browser instead or as a companion.
Private browsers like Tor implement a series of security systems that help bounce online communications across various channels. That means that it’s much more difficult for someone to just “reach into” your browser data and take what they’re looking for.
We’d still recommend a VPN over this option, but it’s great for people looking for a minimal option.
Use A Secure Messaging System
The one service we can’t recommend enough is a secure SMS app. While standard services like Whatsapp and iMessage are generally trusted, they’re not industry standards in terms of security.
For that, you’ll want a service like Signal. Signal is one of several SMS services that promises to ensure that the information you send over your messenger cannot easily be accessed by anyone.
Again, this won’t help you with specific apps, but it’s pretty much a necessity for anyone who uses text messages whatsoever. As for service options, you can read about some of our favorites here.
Activate Find my iPhone
When we talk about data protection, we’re usually talking about digital safeguards. However, there are plenty of data thieves out there who are happy with snatching your iPhone and calling it a day.
The Find my iPhone service is your best friend against those thieves. For those unfamiliar, it allows you to use GPS to track a stolen iPhone. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s your first line of defense at the very least.
Honestly, there’s little reason not to have this service activated.
Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi
It’s very difficult to not use public Wi-Fi from time to time. That’s especially true if you live in a major metropolitan area. It’s a fantastic convenience and also digital privacy enemy number one.
Public Wi-Fi is designed to be accessible by a large number of people. That also makes it accessible by those who might use it for malicious purposes. Some people will even set up networks solely designed for phishing.
Avoid using public networks whenever possible and use a VPN whenever you do.
Always Use Two-Factor Authentication
This is one of those common sense features that everyone should utilize.
Whenever you have the option to use two-factor authentification, do so. This simple extra step to protect the ability to log-in to your account may just be the thing that prevents someone who shouldn’t be able to access your account from doing so.
It’s not a perfect system, but Authentication protects your phone data from a large number of data thieves who lack more sophisticated methods.
Don’t Use Touch ID or Facial Recognition
First off, it’s not as hard to crack fingerprint and facial ID recognition systems as you might think it would be. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. More importantly, there are laws that protect you in the event of having to enter your phone’s password if requested to do so. These same laws are a bit more obtuse as it concerns recognition software.
As such, it’s best to just ignore them entirely.
Consider a Password Manager for Stronger Passwords
You probably know that you need strong passwords. The problem is that it’s difficult to remember all your strong passwords.
Password managers can help you with that problem. It might sound like a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket, but that’s not exactly how it works. Your passwords are already out there protected by individual sites. Password managers allow you to add an extra layer of protection. The best ones don’t even store your master password anywhere online.
Don’t have total faith in password managers, but consider using some of the best ones out there.
Think About Using an Ad Blocker
Ad blockers have a reputation for being detrimental to the revenue of various website. They certainly can be. However, an ad blocker used judiciously can be very helpful for privacy protection.
Some ad blockers can be run on a kind of “minimum mode” that ensure they only target ads suspected to be malicious. Others allow you to replace ads with verified safe ones.
The point is that it’s possible to use ad blockers in a way that is responsible to yourself and your favorite websites. You can start by viewing a list of recommended services.
Double Check Your App Settings
We’ve already talked about Facebook settings, but it’s not the only app you need to monitor as it concerns your data.
Whenever you can, go into the settings of all your apps and see which ones are sharing what data. As much as you’re able, be sure to disable any settings that allow an app to store and share your data.
It might even be worth doing this even when it limits the functionality of certain apps.
Restrict Yourself on Social Media
This one won’t be popular, but it just might be the most important.
As great as social media is, it’s also proven to be a liability for privacy protection. You may love sharing your life online, but doing so carries some very real privacy risks. Those risks can be difficult to protect yourself against even with all the above steps.
If you want to be truly careful, you’ll limit how much you use social media and what you share on it. Just think about whether you want there to be a permanent record of whatever you post.
Facebook Replacement Apps
If you have decided to leave Facebook, you’ll be happy to know there are alternatives. We previously looked at some Twitter alternatives, but there’s no shortage of Facebook competitors out there. Here are some of the most interesting competitors.
Some say Vero is the future of social media. Others say its a flash in the pan. Regardless, it remains one of the most talked about social media apps out there.
Vero is a subscription-based social media platform. Why would you pay for social media? Well, you would because those payments mean that Vero is ad-free. It also means that Vero doesn’t have much incentive to sell your data as Facebook does. Even better, Vero combines elements of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to provide a kind of “greatest hits” social media experience.
Currently free for the first million users, Vero is well-worth a shot.
Ello first made waves as an “anti-Facebook” due to its emphasis on privacy. Years later, it remains one of the more secure options.
Ello really only works best for artists and others looking to share work, but it’s a pretty brilliant platform for those purposes. Its simple interface and respectable user count makes it an enjoyable, stable Facebook alternative for some.
Even if you don’t use Ello for promotional purposes, it’s still worth checking out.
There’s probably a very good chance you’re already using Reddit. After all, it’s one of the world’s most popular websites. However, have you considered that Reddit can be a Facebook alternative?
Reddit has arguably always been better at allowing you to access a variety of news and user-submitted content. However, Reddit’s recently expanded profile options make it much easier to turn your account into a kind of homepage. It takes a little tinkering, but it’s not that hard to use Reddit for most of Facebook’s most popular functions.
Reddit isn’t a perfect Facebook alternative, but it’s one of several sites that replicate its best features.
Finding a Facebook replacement sometimes means thinking beyond Facebook. In other words, you have to consider alternative approaches to social media. So far as that goes, MeWe is probably the best overall Facebook alternative.
MeWe promises, and delivers, “No Ads. No Spyware. No BS.” It achieves this through a variety of security methods as well as a different approach to the social media concept. MeWe emphasizes communicating and sharing only with people you choose. You can build a network of friends, but you don’t have to share everything with them (and strangers). It’s like a more versatile version of Slack and other messaging services.
This is one of the best new social media services that we’ve seen in recent years. It takes a little getting used to, but it might be the future.