Eco Friendly Web Hosting

Pick Pixelfed

This one is about Instagram and I know it is a tough one. People love Instagram. Even people who hate Facebook. But Instagram is Facebook (Meta) a company littered with well-documented criticism providing ample reason for us not to support it (including censorship issues; data harvesting; political influence; misinformation; privacy invasion; climate denial; psychological manipulation; tax-avoidance). The good news is there is a similar and better alternative platform to Instagram: Pixelfed.

What’s so Bad About Instagram?

Here are a few reasons to consider an alternative to Instagram:

Centralisation

Instagram is owned by Facebook (Meta) so is in the hands of a few powerful people. You can’t control the direction it takes or how it monitors and manipulates you.

Deliberately Addictive

Social media apps from the Silicon Valley giants are designed deliberately to keep you on the platform for as long as possible. There are many tricks that have been developed over the years to do this including the unrealistically vivid colours, likes, notifications and infinite scrolling. The more time you’re there the more money they can make by selling you to their advertisers.

Mental Health Issues

Charity Anxiety UK suggest psychological distress is brought about when young people spend significant time on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. A research study by Meta Platforms was leaked and it showed that Instagram causes low self-esteem and increases body image issues for teenage girls. Another study found that 40% of Insta users who reported feeling unattractive said the feeling began on the app, and about a quarter of teenagers who reported feeling ‘not good enough’ said it started on Instagram.

Privacy

-Or lack thereof! Instagram follows every move you make on its own platform and also everything you do in external websites that you’ve accessed through the app. Do you feel privacy isn’t important because you have nothing to hide? Read this.

And put it this way (as Jaz did): “If the phone companies were recording the words we use in our conversations to sell our preferences to advertisers and make machine learning-driven inferences about us as humans, we’d lose our collective minds. But when Internet companies do it we’ve managed to create a world where that’s … normal … most people don’t like it but believe there’s no alternative.” But there is an alternative. See below.

Suicide Issues

As well as various studies indicating the links between overusing social media and depression, loneliness and a host of other mental problems, the leaked Meta report showed that 13% of Instagram users in the UK with suicidal thoughts traced them back to the platform.

Targetting

Through their algorithms you are bombarded by adverts.

Why Choose Pixelfed as an Instagram Alternative?

Pixelfed has pretty much all of the functionality of Insta with the following extra added benefits:

Pixelfed puts decision making in your hands

You can control what you want to see and what you don’t. It’s down to your personal preference with no corporate, top-down social media choosing to feed what it thinks will keep you online or what it wants to sell to you.

Pixelfed is decentralised

Instant global communication is too important to belong to one company. Each Pixelfed server is an independent entity, able to interoperate with others to form one global social network.

Pixelfed has 5 rules based on respect

1. Sexually explicit or violent media must be marked as sensitive when posting
2. No racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, or casteism
3. No incitement of violence or promotion of violent ideologies
4. No harassment, dogpiling or doxxing of other users
5. No content illegal in United States

Pixelfed is free and open-source software

It believes in your right to use, copy, study and change Pixelfed as you see fit.

There’s no ulterior motive

There are no third party analytics or tracking. You will never be served ads or have profiles pushed for you to see. That means your data and your time are yours and yours alone.

There are no algorithms or ads to waste your time

You can follow anyone across any Pixelfed server from a single account and receive posts in chronological order.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain

By which I mean to draw your attention to Pixelfed’s nifty feature which allows you to import you entire Instagram history in to your Pixelfed account. So you won’t lose what you’ve already built up, but you will gain all of the benefits already listed above.

If it sounds good to you then you can join Pixelfed here. Once you’ve set up your account go ahead and follow me here.

Instagram Vs Pixelfed Comparison

When searching for a more ethical platform as an Instagram alternative I’d say it is important to consider certain criteria. For me a platform that meets the following would definitely be considered more ethical.

Is it decentralised?

A decentralised platform is not owned by any single entity. No one person, group or company owns it. Users have little or no control over a privately owned platform. Certain rules may be imposed and certain vested interests may be served. Even if a platform is seemingly benevolent the fact that it is privately owned means it can (and probably will) be sold at some point to the highest bidder (usually one of the big bad lads!)

Pixelfed: ✅ | Instagram: ❌

Is it Open Source?

Open source software allows people to view, modify, copy and share the computer code on which it is powered. It is totally transparent, meaning anyone can check the full code and ensure there are no nasty spy back doors or criminal attacks built in. This makes it incredibly secure. It is adaptable, by anyone, which means its constantly evolving, building strength upon strength with improvements and fixes being offered up by the community. In short it is democratic rather than despotic.

Pixelfed: ✅ | Instagram: ❌

Is it Tracker Free?

From the perspective of data collection companies, you are the product, waiting to be sold to advertisers. Conventional platforms are littered with trackers, stalking your every move around the web with the intention of selling your data on to these companies in order that you can be targetted by advertisers. If a platform is tracker-free you cannot be targetted in this manner, ensuring your privacy is respected.

Pixelfed: ✅ | Instagram: ❌

Is it Ad Free?

Whether you’ve been tracked and targetted by advertisers or not, adverts are a distraction and a pain in the arse. What’s more if a platform is dependent upon advertisers to make money then it is in its interest to serve these advertisers to you. An ad-free platform is a hassle-free, no strings attached platform.

Pixelfed: ✅ | Instagram: ❌

Is it Secure?

Keeping your data secure is important. You want to ensure hackers and cyber-thieves cannot access sensitive information. Tracking and surveillance by corporations or governments should not be something you are subjected to without question.

Pixelfed: ✅ | Instagram: ❌

Who imposes the rules?

People have differing views on moderation, and that’s fine. We’re all different. We can agree to disagree and still respect and love one another. Decentralised social media platforms are served across multiple servers. Each server creates their own rules and regulations, which are enforced locally and not top-down like corporate social media. This means every individual can choose to join a server with the rules they agree with. They are still able to interact with any user on any of the servers across the decentralised social media platform.

Pixelfed: You and your community ✅ | Instagram: The platform owner ❌

Are there algorithms?

Mainstream platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) use algorithms to feed you content that will make them more money. With no algorithms you get to see the content you choose in chronological order, keeping you in control and not wasting your time (or money!)

Pixelfed: None ✅ | Instagram: Oh yes. ❌

My Insta Alternative Recommendation

My recommendation for an alternative to Instagram is definitely to sign up to Pixelfed. You can follow me here. The trick is to get a few friends to sign up at the same time and grow your community from there.

Alternatives to other unethical platforms

Further Resources:
TED Talk by Dino Ambrosi Exposing the Hidden Costs of Social Media

Your 26 Steps Checklist