Alternative to Facebook that is Moral and not built on Ad $$?

Thanks @anon22019695, I didn’t know about Minds, though I had heard of Steemit which is also mentioned.

The business model is indeed interesting, and these kinds of models could be the way forward for next-gen social media, if implemented well.

What I always find amusing is that alternative social networks are described as tiny - and thereby implying they are somewhat less interesting or viable - if they do not have multi-million active users, or can’t scale up to these amounts. This reflects our current way of thinking where success is measure against your potential future market value and revenue. This while a million user social network with 110,000 active monthly users will be able to sustain a small company, like… forever.

As I glean from the article, the core team is paid from the Patreon-like payment system Wire, while other contributors of both content and open-source code are ‘paid’ in points (and soon in Minds tokens). You currently can’t exchange the points back to money, but you can use it get benefits on the network, like reading quality content that is behind a paywall. Additionally the team earns money from subscriptions by users paying $5 per months to get rid of ads, called Boosts.

This can amount to good incomes for employees of Minds, which only needs a small team, according to the article.

This reputation system is nice. It stimulates valuable contributions, and for people that do not contribute much, to pay donations that sustain the network. For users there are little monetary incentives to ‘game the system’, to abuse it. Contributors with high reputation (points) will become valued/trusted members of the community.

Where I have my reservations as I have explained in the Brave browser discussion is the move to Minds tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain. Now you’ll get a different situation, and it is interesting to see how this turns out in the long run.

With Ethereum, unlike Bitcoin, the transactions that you put on the blockchain are called Smart Contracts. These are small pieces of code (using a simple scripting language) with which you can model all kinds of transaction types, not just payments from A to B. For this you pay a transaction fee, based on the calculation cost of the contract (expressed in gas) and the gas price (which is set by the miners that execute the transaction and is based on demand) which is expressed in Ether (the Ethereum token).

Because Minds tokens initially cannot be exchanged to other cryptocurrencies or dollars the core team can keep using the Wire payment system, do the Ethereum transactions themselves, and deal out appropriate amount of Minds tokens (note: I don’t know their exact mechanism, could be different). So far, so good. The only issue is rising transaction fees (Ether price may fluctuate wildly) which may need to be passed on to the Minds userbase.

A whole can of worms open, however, if the Minds team intends to open their token to the wider cryptocurrency world in the future, allowing 2-way exchange between other currencies. This will open up the ecosystem to all the kinds of speculative trading we see in the crypto market, with greedy traders speculating on fluctuating exchange rates to make their profit. For anyone in the know of this move there is now an incentive to hoard Minds tokens, and benefit from the likely price rise when this occurs.
Also there is the risk of the core team setting aside a large amount of tokens for themselves, as you see in Initial Coin Offerings, or ICO’s, and then become millionaires overnight. Not saying this is the case, just that it could be. If they decide to cash in, exchange for dollars, and there is a large crypto crash, they may lose the incentive to further maintain the social network.

One final thing on Ethereum: The smart contract are interesting in another way, in that ‘code is law’. The code of the contract determines the legality of the transaction, what you can do with it. If there is a bug in this code, then that bug is also law, and may allow hackers to ‘steal’ large amounts of tokens (this has happened before). Even though the scripting language is simple, a bug is easily created. There is much effort to alleviate the risk, but it is a risk nonetheless.

I have written a follow-up on the business model here: Business model innovation


I recently launched one: Hawser Personal Media. If you’re curious, you can check it out at

Always appreciate feedback & happy to answer any questions.


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Hawser personal media is free (forever) for early adopters.

Please check out our info page at

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I got two other Facebook friends to sign up, and one of them said, like me, she was quitting FB and joining Heartcup. I also sent a message to a person who heads a charity in case he wants to join too.

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Thanks bery much!!! I appreciate your attention to the details;)

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We just laumched a small “social” network alternative That doesn’t rely on ad $$& and offers services (like closed accessibility) that make it better than email.

I don’t know about you but I delete more emails in a day then I read because It’s simply no different then the mail I get at my physical address. Too much junk mail. Once someone has my email address…well, they have my email address. And as much as I could spend time blocking and labeling things as spam. It only takes someone a total of 15 seconds to create another email account and spam me from that one.

I would be grateful if you would take a look at And as much as I could spend time blocking and labeling things as spam. It only takes someone a total of 15 seconds to create another email account and spam me from that one.

I would be grateful if you would take a look at and tell me if you think it’s different enough from email for you.

Thank younfor reporting this! When was that?
Which version and from where did you try to download the app? (AppStore, PlayStore???) On what kind of device and operating system?

“A pro-competitive solution to reducing barriers to entry online will encourage platforms to compete on providing better privacy, control, and rights for consumers”

Hi All
I find this an interesting post and one that raises questions about the normal ways of thinking about society and business and the internet. the problem seems to be this:
How can we leverage the power of connectivity that the facebook has done without the bad stuff, when the business model of facebook is based on selling ads to people who for structural/capitalist reasons want to deceive to make the highest return. The obvious alternative touted is a subscription model which is problematic because then the rich can protect themselves from facebook but the poor not. the other alternative is to pay users for their info, but that doesn’t really solve the problem, it just monetizes it, bringing a little redistribution and legitimising further dodgy practice.

These models may be the automatic thinking of US citizens focused on free enterprise (an oxymoron if ever there was one). One obvious alternative is for there to be a publically-funded space on offer: payed for by general taxation, and separated legally from central government, like universities. It’s of course no surprise that every major innovation on the web was grown in universities, but exploited by private individuals. Why not have a model where the benefits of public investment are shared by public bodies. Publicbook anyone?


Interesting concept.

Hello, my name is Michael and I am new here. I would like to address this topic because I feel the time right now is extremely important to understand the toxic context in which we are living in every day, and that is primarily because of how social media has educated us through the apps we use.
The biggest problems are the dopamine based reward mechanism and loneliness. When you put these two together, the problem is so big that, over time, it has extremely negative effects on society as a whole, because it directly affects how people interact at a foundational level.

In the comments I have seen that fellow forum members believe that there is not other business model except for an ad based business model. Please allow me to disagree.

An ecosystem based on a mixed model of free and paid-for content is the best approach, in my opinion. Just like in real life, you have things which are rather free and things for which you pay. I believe that there is a very healthy model which can exist by directly allowing people who create on the platform to be paid for what they create. When I say create, I mean a whole range of content: from posts to development on apps on the platform which others can use and implement those apps directly within their communities on the platform. This would create an economy based on meritocracy: people building things and being paid money by other users who use those things for themselves or the communities they serve. I can expand on this if you would like.

Finally, the need for ads can exist. Ads, by themselves, are not bad, they are a form of discovery which has served us and always will. The problems appear with the trivialization of ads. When people are getting in this ecosystem just to exploit it financially and not to make it thrive. And especially ads for non-utility products, such as a tabloids or attention seekers who provide no real value to others. Therefore, in my opinion, utility based ads are good, but these ads must be placed in non-invasive places within the app. Directly related to this, the data which must be collected is restricted to the communities, and NOT the users themselves. For example: if you have a group about cars, it’s obvious that the ads served there should be about cars and related industries. And it’s that simple, there is no real need to collect user data, especially sensitive data, to create e healthy and thriving ecosystem where people can actually feel good.

Finally, another big problem we have today is that big apps are not allowing us to actually meet in real life in a casual, non-sexual way. These apps are not bringing the internet closer to us, they are keeping it strategically far away and trying to build ever higher walls around their ecosystems to keep us lonely and scrolling.

My firm belief is that getting people together in real life is critical for any platform which regards itself as social. If that is not critical, that is not a social platform, it is just a media platform. And unfortunately we have been sold this narrative that FB and Twitter and Snapchat are social platforms. They are not. They are media platforms, they are the gossip tabloids of yesterday on a handheld device. Media (especially tabloid type media) is the silver bullet which cancels the native social aspect of any platform because it cancels action between people. It isolates them and makes them content consuming robots.

I firmly believe in people and people’s power to do good. People can do amazingly good things and thrive if the context allows them to. Right now, the social context does not allow people to thrive and rewards a specific, very toxic attention seeking behavior.

I also firmly believe in a Renaissance in human connection. We can only do that by starting a quest to cure loneliness and build tools for togetherness. Tools which allow people to harvest the power of technology to bring them together in person. To use ALL their senses in the interaction with other humans, not just the visual or auditory senses.

The final thing I will say is that, together with my team, I am working on something like this (I don’t want to ruin the spirit of this thread by advertising it). I never had a FB account (nor will I) and I purposefully subjected myself to Twitter to understand the toxicity of our current online relationships and communication. And I believe that together, we can bring forth a Renaissance in human relationships.


It’s a pretty different format, but have considered a Slack team?

You could create different channels for different discussions. Users have control over how notifications are served to them. There’s no advertising and you can pay for an account if you want more message history.

The real-time nature of comms may be a bit overwhelming, but I still prefer it to FB.


As a possible alternative to FB I would like to bring MeWe to your attention:

I know that @patm has recently started using it, so you could as her for her experiences…


MeWe founder, Mark Weinstein, dreamed of the next generation in online communications, envisioning a social and chat app that would give people everywhere the most exciting and helpful sharing technology with privacy built into the design - where members would feel safe and respected.

  • It’s your show. Share your world online your way, by your rules.
  • You own your content. You control your interactions. You design your level of privacy.
  • MeWe challenges the status quo by making privacy the foundation of online social experiences.
  • MeWe keeps your information free from tracking, spying, and scraping.
  • Share content only with those you wish to see it. It’s your online life, with privacy, safety, and simplicity.

Validbook Social is an alternative to Facebook that is being built. It is more neutral, serious and “base” social network. It provides more comprehansive look on human personality.

Validbook Social is a part of Validbook Services - a universal platform for cooperation, built on the idea of Self-Sovereign Identity. See more about Validbook in this post - Validbook - a universal platform for cooperation

Validbook is not in production yet. You can check alpha version here - (As Validbook is built on Self-Sovereign Identity idea, you will need a cryptographic key for login. To login as a main test user - download and use the following key Password to keystore file - “123456789”. After login go manually to the home page. Use Chrome browser. In production version the process of login will be seamless, as we will use browser extension to store key.)

@aniket Have you read Jarod Lanier? 10 Reasons to Dekete your social media accounts now or who owns the future ? He argues ad based platforms stealing our data are actually not the only ways to finance social media.

There are loads of alternatives - the availability of alternatives to Facebook has absolutely nothing to do with the reason why it is unlikely that any of these will succeed ‘at scale’.

Social Networks rely on ‘Network Effects’ and for all the good alternatives, you join and guess what, nobody else from your social network is there. People do not like checking lots of different accounts so most people will just stick with the one that ‘everyone else’ in their peer group is on.

I suspect the arena where alternatives will meet with more success is those which are vertically targeted - which serve specific groups.

I built a social networking site for people in recovery from addictions ( which I hope will work because the target for recruitment is people who convene existing recovery groups and who might not like running things on FB.

My view is that the effort to build alternatives would be better to focus on different kinds of ‘affinity groups’ rather than generic social network platforms as at least for now, that particular war has been lost.


Thank you for creating; I may refer a friend to it.

Regarding what you say here:

When I was on Facebook, I had about a hundred friends. Four have followed me to You can calculate this as 4% of my friends, but we know how FB has distorted the meaning of what was once an honorable word. If we narrow my FB circle of “friends” to those with whom I had mutually caring relationships, you’ll get about a dozen. So, recalculating, about 33% of my friends have followed me–the latest just a few days ago. Will more follow? My guess is no.

We therefore have a new question: can I be content with one-third of my former circle? Of the four who have followed me, I have known three for over a decade, and our friendships were forged not on FB but through email. The fourth person is someone I befriended just last year. All of them live on the mainland–three on the East Coast and one on the West–so I rarely get to see them.

Which makes our connection on all the sweeter. And more important.

I think this is how an alternative social network can improve on FB: it can reduce the “friend” noise to words and expressions of sincere affection. I don’t feel popular on, but I do feel that each friend is truly one.

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When quitting Facebook I had exactly 500 “friends”. The number doesn’t matter, because actually almost none of them were my actual friends.

Most were interested in “vanity friendships” where they could show off to other people that we were “friends” without actually having to be friends. By being Facebook “friends” with those 500 people, I was feeding their disease of narcissism. For many people, social media was sadly their only outlet of creativity, and also their way to show off to the world that they are doing ok. Social networks channel human energy into the destruction of genuine and deep human relationships because they promote superficial and shallow “relationships” where in fact there is no human bond or caring whatsoever. When I think about it, it’s so much lost potential because that same energy could be directed towards constructive uses.

Friends are people who would keep in contact with even if they were not on any social network. Friends talk or chat regularly via messaging (even by Messenger) and meet up when they can. Leaving a social network shouldn’t change anyone’s real friends, because real friends stay in touch in other ways and will adjust the way the communicate.

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Well said, @Free. When friendship can be packaged and distributed, it is no longer priceless. Tonight I was watching music videos on YouTube and was annoyed to see Facebook ads flashing across the screen. They were not so blatant as to be identifiable as ads. They were more like subliminal messages: pictures of family with text that said something like “Post more pictures on Facebook.”

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This is disturbing because it means we have one of the world’s most profitable corporations performing societal engineering on our interpersonal relationships. They’re redefining what it means to have a relationship in the interest of profits.

Personally I find that looking at never ending feeds of pictures is nothing short of madness. One of my friends describes selfies as “the most insane behaviour that I have ever witnessed in my life” yet here we have Facebook trying to engineer people to do just that.

Thanks for letting the community know about this. I’m too often blind to this kind of manipulation because I use the open-source uBlock Origin ad and tracking blocker and so never see any adverts.