Published: 4 March 2021

Have you ever had a verbal conversation with someone and then looked at Facebook or Instagram only to see suggested posts, users or adverts relating to the very conversation you’ve just had?

Could it really be possible that social network sites are actually ‘listening’ to your off-line communication and targeting you accordingly? Who knows, but more people are starting to question their relationship with Facebook and its sister site Instagram and messenger platform WhatsApp, as revelations about data harvesting and security concerns continue. Only this week, WhatsApp, which shares some personal data with Facebook, announced that it will block users sending and receiving messages if they don’t accept updated terms and conditions.

We’ve all become so reliant on social networks, especially over the last year, but are there safer alternatives available to keep us connected? Lifeline IT’s Daniel Mitchell gives you a guide to some of the platforms that you can dwindle away the hours on, without fear of your details being passed on to Cambridge Analytica.

Alternative Social Media Sites

This is a subscription based social network, which displays no ads and doesn’t collect data. Vero does collect some usage data to see how often the app is used, but unlike Facebook, you have to opt in to allow this (with Facebook everything is turned on and you have to go into your settings and turn them off). Any usage data collected is shown to users in the app so they can manage their screen time better.

Opening slowly, by waiting list or invitation only, Telepath brands itself as a “kinder” social network. It is very transparent about data privacy and sets clear rules around using a “real” identity. It’s gaining users, including a number of high-profile techies and leaders.

Alternatives To Whatsapp And Facebook Messenger

Signal is an online messaging app that works in a similar way to messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – you can use it to send messages when connected to Wi-Fi or your mobile data. Signal’s key USP is privacy. It uses strong encryption for all communication, no ads and no tracking.

Slack is an instant messaging communication tool. Although used for business, it is also popular across all aspects of life due to the large number of social networks on it. There are two methods of chat in Slack – channels (group chat) and direct message or DM (person-to-person chat). The app has no advertising and does not share your data. Paid for versions provide extra functionality for groups up to enterprise customers.

Alternative Search Engines

DuckDuckGo is an internet search engine that protects users’ privacy. It does not collect or share any of your personal data, meaning you can browse the internet without having targeted ads constantly being shown, as you do on Google.

Brave is a fast, private and secure web browser that stops online surveillance, loads content faster and uses 35% less battery.

NB: These apps/networks are not endorsed by Lifeline IT

Have you Completed our ‘IT Tech Challenges Survey’?

If you haven’t, you can still take part (until 10 March 2021). We’ll be using the results to launch a series of ‘Tech Challenges’ podcasts in the Spring to help improve your digital life.




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