The biggest Twitter shareholder and the king of shitposting — Elon Musk — is unhappy with what's going on there. Even Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter himself, is not proud of this platform. Needless to describe Facebook's and Instagram's reputations. Why don't we just leave all those old social networks! To The Moon journalist, Damir Kamaletdinov found some local alternatives for you (and for Mr. Musk, of course) all across the world.

🇺🇸 USA

Vero vs Instagram

Launch Date: 2015

The pitch: It’s like Instagram, but free from ads, data mining, and algorithms.

Current Status: Still operating and getting new features.

Vero was launched by Lebanese billionaire Ayman Hariri with the motto «more social, fewer media». From the ground, it was a clear alternative to Instagram, but ad-free. Vero’s main mission is to stay away from data mining and control over personal data.

They mean it — one of their mottos is «No Ads. No Data Mining. No algorithms».

It’s one of the most comfortable alternatives for Instagram if you had your social bumble there or could convince people to sign up. You can share photos, videos, music, books, tag places, and place links.

There are famous users like Greg Williams, Ben Staley, Clay Enos. But Vero got worldwide attention when Zack Snyder started to talk about his own «Snyder cut» of Justice League in his profile.

Of course, Vero has in-app chat and tools for buying or recommending goods. But anyway it was positioned more as a community, than just a business. Vero can be useful not just for photographers, ad-free service can be one of the easiest ways to showcase photos and build an audience.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

Minds vs Facebook

Launch Date: 2015

The pitch: Like Facebook, but without collecting data.

Current status: Still operating.

Minds were launched in response to concerns about Facebook data collecting. The network prides itself on prioritizing its user's privacy and security among algorithmic activity feed.

You can use Minds through the web and mobile app on iOS or Android. It looks like Facebook with profiles, chronological feeds, posts, sharing, and groups. But also it does set itself apart by incorporating its cryptocurrency. Users can earn tokens by creating engaging content and then spent crypto to promote posts or exchange for other cryptos.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

ELLO = Facebook - likes

Launch date: April 2014

The pitch: You are not the product.

Current status: Still operating, found a new niche.

Ello started like Facebook, but without ads and likes. Then pivoted to the platform for creators like Pinterest. It’s easy to join — name and email are enough.

Service gained traction when Facebook started requiring users to use their real names. At the start, Ello plans to sell premium features but never gets it to work out. Service was invite-only for quite some time, but it buckled under the spike in demand. When the site recovered, people’s curiosity was already gone. At the end of the day, Ello found new life as heaven for artists. In 2017 there were 625,000 of them.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

MASTODON vs Twitter

Launch date: Late 2016

The pitch: Open-source decentralized Twitter.

Current status: Mastodon hasn’t gone mainstream, but is still working and keeps updating.

Mastodon is an alternative for Twitter. It’s open-source, distributed across independent servers, and lacking any algorithms. Service got money to cover costs directly from users through donations on Patreon.

Several decentralized servers turned Mastodon into a federated social network with independent areas. Users should choose a server when they sign up. That was tricky, so despite the hype, it didn’t help to grow the audience. Once in a while, it grew by 73% to 41,703 users in one 48-hour period and then temporarily paused on new accounts.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

APP.NET—no ads Twitter

Launch date: August 2012

The pitch: Alternative for Twitter with no ads and a platform for developers.

Current status: App.net shut down in January 2017.

Creators of APP.NET gained $500,000 from a crowdfunding campaign to pay for early development in just two days. Original idea was to create ad-free social media and empower third-party developers to create their applications for the platform.

There was a subscription for $50 per year and developers could pay extra for tools they use. Users were fixated on twitter-like options rather than platform ambitions. Within two years subscriptions dropped, founders moved on and service met its end.

Source: TheNextWeb.com
Source: TheNextWeb.com

🇨🇳 China

Weibo just like Twitter

Launch date: August 2009

The pitch: Chinese Twitter is under the control of the local government.

Current status: Working and updating.

Sina Weibo (新浪微博) was launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009. Now it is one of the biggest social media in China, with over 445 million monthly active users as of Q3 2018.

Weibo means microblog, so from the ground, it was an alternative to Twitter and became quite successful. It’s also a financial success with ads sales, high revenue, and total earnings per quarter. Weibo has a $30 billion market valuation mark at the start of 2018.

Source: rusfair.group
Source: rusfair.group

WeChat vs WhatsApp

Launch date: August 2009

The pitch: Chinese WhatsApp, but with social functions.

Current status: Working and updating.

WeChat originally was like WhatsApp, but then became a multi-service app. In China it’s one of the default payment systems — you can buy or transfer money through the QR code by just pointing to the camera.

Service allows free text-based chats and voice calls, also it has stories-like feature Moments. There are animated stickers and AR filters for images or videos sent within the app. Like other social services, China WeChat is under the control of the government. It’s also banned in India because of border clashes along with 58 other Chinese Apps.

Source: uxren.cn
Source: uxren.cn

QZone and QQ

Launch date: April 2005

The pitch: ICQ for China.

Current status: Still operating.

QZone and QQ are short names for OICQ. O means «open», but it’s Chinese language-only. QQ was created by Tencent and now allows users not only to message but also to write blogs, keep diaries, send photos, listen to music, and watch videos.

In a 2009 report by Tencent, Qzone surpassed other social networks sites in China. It continues to grow rapidly to 623,3 million users as of November 2013.

Source: qumin.co.uk
Source: qumin.co.uk

🇰🇷 South Korea

BAND (Naver) the messenger

Launch Date: Somewhere in 2014.

The pitch: Mix Slack and Discord in one app.

Current status: Operating and keep growing.

The band is created by Naver, which is the Google of South Korea. It's a messenger with a wide range of additional functions, but first of all, it is an app for teams and groups. This makes Band more like Slack in the US.

In South Korea, it became popular through the gaming community. Gamers needed an easy way to talk to each one other and that is when Band comes. It’s so user-friendly that even the Republic of Korea Army uses it.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

Daum/KakaoTalk the super-app

Launch Date: March 2010.

The pitch: Alternative for WhatsApp, Facebook with super-app features.

Current status: Operating and keep growing.

In South Korea, it’s one of the most popular social apps with 97% of people using it. There is also a KakaoStory – a fully alternative to Facebook, that was launched two years later.

KakaoTalk is a WhatsApp-style messaging service.

Like the Chinese WeChat, Kakao diversified offering online banking and taxi services. In Korea, users can easily buy food or goods by sending a QR code to their Kakao account.

Source: kakaocorp.com
Source: kakaocorp.com

Source: kakaocorp.com
Source: kakaocorp.com

🇮🇳 India

Twitter-like Ku Koo Ku

Launch Date: 2019

The pitch: Twitter-like functions but for Indian languages

Current status: Operating and keep growing

The app earlier known as Ku Koo Ku was founded three years ago and won a government challenge. It has many capabilities from Twitter, but adopted to publish in Indian languages – it’s one of its selling points. Users can write up to 400 characters of text and attach multimedia like audio and video recordings.

A screenshot by Damir Kamaletdinov
A screenshot by Damir Kamaletdinov

Chingari vs Tik-Tok

Launch Date: November 2018

The pitch: Indian Tik-Tok

Current status: Operating and keep growing Chingari was launched amid the ban of TikTok in India. It’s a short-video platform where the users can create videos to lip-sync, dance, voice-over movie dialogues, and others. It gained a lot of attention when TikTok was blocked in the country and has rapidly grown since then.

A screenshot by Damir Kamaletdinov
A screenshot by Damir Kamaletdinov

🇯🇵 Japan

LINE vs Facebook

Launch Date: 2006

The pitch: Japanese alternative to Facebook.

Current status: Operating and keep growing.

Line is the most popular messenger in Japan. Almost 70% of Japanese people use it. Since the beginning of 2020, it has acquired over 4 million new users most of which were active daily.

Like WeChat in China, Line is significantly important to local businesses. It’s also become more than a messenger with channels, games, its payment system, taxi service, news, and shopping functions.

Source: linecorp.com/en/
Source: linecorp.com/en/

🇷🇺 Russia

RossGram vs Instagram

Launch Date: ?

The pitch: "Anti-extremists" Russian clone of Instagram.

Current status: Initial testing and promises.

On March 28 a team of Russian developers promised to launch a RossGram — a local alternative for Instagram. But as it turned out there was no development at all, they’ve just spent one day on a PHP-template PixelPhoto. Users can upload pictures, videos, and stories, but only from the internal memory of the device. There is no function to capture anything. They also have no mass audience and provide only initial tests at this time.

Source: t.me/rossgram_ru
Source: t.me/rossgram_ru

VK vs Facebook

Launch Date: 2006

The pitch: Russian-speaking clone of Facebook.

Current status: Operating and evolving.

Starting as a Russian Facebook, VK (VKontakte) quickly became a better social service with music, videos, and games. It was a more useful, innovative, and flexible platform at the time and gained traction not only in Russia but also in European countries.

Six years later CEO and founder VKontakte Pavel Durov stepped down after Russian government pressure on social media. Then VK became more than a social network but an ecosystem for services. Now it has taxis, food, health, audio/video streaming, and a lot more.

Screenhots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenhots by Damir Kamaletdinov

OK—Facebook for your Russian nana

Launch Date: March 2006

The pitch: Social service for classmates.

Current status: Still operating and getting updates.

Initially launched as Odnoklassniki, OK became one of the biggest social services in Russia. It was created as a hobby project by a Russian developer but then attracted a mass audience.

Now it’s one of the most advanced social networks in the world with machine learning and algorithms in almost each of its products. Despite an aging audience, OK is still very popular with more than 300 million users.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

Yappy vs TikTok

Launch Date: 2021

The pitch: Another Russian alternative for TikTok

Current status: Operating and developing

Yappy was created by a team of developers from Gazprom-Media holding — subsidiary of state-controlled Gazprom. From the ground it was an alternative for TikTok with a short-video platform, trending and «collaboration function.

Russia already has a working alternative to TikTok named Clips from VK, but that doesn't stop the creators of Yappy. After the launch at the end of 2021, the audience grew 4 times just in a week.

Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov
Screenshots by Damir Kamaletdinov

Boosty vs Patreon

Launch Date: May 2019

The pitch: Russian alternative for Patreon.

Current status: Operating and evolving.

Boosty was launched by DonationAlerts — subsidiary of Mail.ru Group (now – VK). From the beginning it was an alternative for Patreon. MRG already had a service for donations, but Boosty let creators monetize their talent by paying subscriptions on the content. You can set goals, price of subscribing and so on.

A screenshot by Damir Kamaletdinov
A screenshot by Damir Kamaletdinov