The internet was abuzz with the Facebook outage last week, prompting conversations of alternatives for the seemingly ubiquitous platform and highlighting a number of Black-led alternatives to the giant social network, each with its ethos and promises of increased psychological safety for diverse users.
As of Q2’21 Facebook has just under three billion users, more than one-third of the world’s population. That count excludes users of Facebook-owned Instagram and Whatsapp with one and two billion users respectively.
In the shadow of the giant yet troubling social platform, arguably one of the first social media companies, Black Planet, founded in 1999, serves as an online outlet to the Black community. Since the murder of George Floyd, the site has made a comeback and at its height, Black Planet boasted 18 million monthly active users.
Today several Black-led social media companies have arrived on the scene, from Najla Austin’s Somewhere Good to Bee Law’s fandom app QuirkChat. Perhaps the newest entrant is 7th Avenue, which touts itself as a safe space for Black users.
“The big social giants serve their purpose for everyone but we’re really focused on how do we create a space that’s really focused on us, for us, and owned by us,’ Diaundra Jones, Cofounder of 7th Avenue, told The Plug.
Among seemingly unending controversies, including targeted misinformation campaigns to Black and Christain user groups reached 140 million U.S. users, about half the U.S. population, the company has yet to fully address fundamental issues on the platform.
An MIT Tech Review investigation found that Facebook's strategy to address the problem failed due to a piecemeal approach to reprimanding bad actors. The engagement-hungry algorithms of the platform significantly made the problem worse.
Facebook has left an opening for other platforms to step up. Following the six-hour outage last week, and as swiftly as the internet moves, a study on how many U.S. users want to delete their social media accounts indicated that Instagram and Facebook were the top two platforms respondents most want to delete.
As integrated as Facebook has become in everyday communications, it can just as easily be unseated by newer platforms that offer more psychological safety for an increasingly diverse world.