Frequently Asked Questions

How do I request / suggest an alternative?

You can contact our Mastodon account or directly open an issue on Codeberg.org.

Can I quote switching.software’s text on my own site?

Yes, the text on switching.software is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 4.0 Licence. Please remember to link back to switching.software if you use content from this site, and to include a link to the licence.

Can I translate switching.software into another language?

Yes absolutely! Please link back and add a link to the license if you do so.

There are already projects in French, German, Italian and Turkish. They’re run by their translators, so please contact these sites directly if you wish to contribute or suggest links.

Do you have a Patreon, Liberapay or other way to financially support the site?

Currently not, as switching.software’s site costs are relatively low.

However, switching.software recommends that you instead donate to free and open source projects linked on the various pages. Choose the ones you appreciate.

If you want to support us non-financially, follow the link.

Why was this site founded?

As we haven’t founded this site ourselves, we want to quote from the original answer from ‘switching.social’ here:

If a complete stranger knocked on your door and asked for a copy of all your emails in exchange for $1, would you accept such a deal? Probably not, but if you use Gmail that’s the deal you’re accepting: Google gets to read all your emails, and in exchange Google gives you a mailbox that costs about $1 a month to run. […]

Many companies are now hopelessly addicted to gathering data. Their share price depends on not just gathering data but doing so at an ever-greater pace, even driving them to break the law. […]

What can an individual do to stop all this? How can one person make a difference? By using apps and services that do not steal data, and encouraging others to do the same. That’s what switching.social is for: To make it as easy as possible for people to find ethical alternatives that respect privacy.

How do you define “privacy-conscious” and “ethical”?

The idea of this site is to provide alternatives that have better privacy but are as easy to use as whatever they replace. These are referred to on this site as “privacy-conscious”.

There are usually other alternatives that provide a higher level of privacy but require technical knowledge that most people don’t have. These aren’t listed in the main part of the site, though you may find some of them in the Advanced Users and Bubbling Under sections.

The word “ethical” is used in many different ways in modern English. On this site it’s used to mean services and apps that do significantly less harm to people’s privacy, because this site regards user privacy as morally good.

None of the alternatives listed are perfect, but they are better options.

Won’t these alternatives just end up being bought by big companies?

In most cases, no, that cannot happen.

Most of the alternatives listed on here are technologically and legally structured in a way that means they cannot be bought or sold.

The social networks listed are federated, which means there is no single site to buy, just thousands of independent sites linked together. Even if a particular site is sold, its users can move to another independent site on the same network. It would be virtually impossible for anyone to take control of the network as a whole.

On top of all this, the software used is released under perpetual free open licences that make it legally impossible for it to be purchased.

Why isn’t Maps.me listed in the Google Maps alternatives?

The Maps.me site was bought by the Russian tech giant Mail.Ru in 2014. Nowadays it promotes an app containing privacy-invading trackers and advertisements.