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Earlier this year, the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting controversy prompted millions of Facebook users to reassess their use of the world’s biggest social network. More recently, a report revealed that Facebook is now trying to add bank details to the long list of personal information it holds on its users.
In the wake of these revelations, many users have threatened to withdraw from Facebook altogether. All of which begs the question: where next? How do you fill that gaping Facebook-shaped hole in your life – preferably without compromising your privacy?
The first thing to note is that there is no direct replacement for Facebook. One reason is the number of users. As bad and annoying as it is in many respects, no other social network even approaches Facebook’s 2.2 billion monthly active users.
Another reason is the fact that Facebook has expanded to cover multiple bases, including messaging, news updates and event planning in addition to the usual life-sharing facilities. No other single service can fill all of those roles in the same way.
With those limitations accepted, let’s examine a handful of iOS apps that provide a more secure alternative to Facebook’s core functions.
Life sharing: Vero
The app-only Vero service has experienced a surge in popularity in the wake of Facebook’s troubles, with some 3 million users. It’s easy to see why.
Unlike the free-to-use Facebook, where the user is the product, Vero is funded through a subscription model. Because it makes its money directly from its users, there are no ads and no need for extensive personal data collection.
Vero also boasts granular sharing controls, so you can determine exactly who sees each of your posts, as well as filtering options on the kind of posts you see from each of your contacts.
If we’re being thorough about this, withdrawing completely from Facebook ideally means withdrawing from Facebook Messenger for your messaging needs. That’s no bad thing, as it’s not a particularly good app.
If you’re being really hardline about this whole “no Facebook” thing, though, you might also want to stop using the Facebook-owned WhatsApp. That’s a slightly bigger problem, given its ubiquity.
There are plenty of great cross-platform messaging apps out there, but one that’s particularly well regarded is Signal. It’s lean, free and ad-less, while its comprehensive approach to end-to-end encryption has received the endorsement of Edward Snowden himself.
It’s going to take a seismic shift for Facebook to stop becoming the go-to app for monitoring events that are happening in your location.
Eventbrite is one of the top dedicated local event apps on the App Store, and it’s extremely intuitive to use. Upon downloading and opening for the first time, you’ll instantly be presented with a list of local events without the need to sign-up or enter any personal details.
If you do opt to sign-up, however, you can buy tickets for the events directly through the app.
News feed: Inkl
For many people, Facebook has become their sole source of news. This tendency is at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which fed its way into both the US election and UK Brexit campaigns.
There are plenty of great news aggregation apps out there, including Flipboard and Apple News (which has the benefit of being on your phone already). We’ve gone with Inkl, though, because it was explicitly constructed to counter the unreliable clickbait journalism that Facebook tends to favor. Inkl draws from the most reputable news sources and avoids ads, yet still curates its output according to your habits.
Of course, if you really need to have some online debate or feedback with your news, there’s always Twitter. But it’s on you to follow a balanced spread of news sources and refrain from falling down the usual comment rabbit holes.