Social networking exploded with Facebook and most of us flocked to it like bees to a honey pot. Having an online identity became pretty much a no-brainer and the lure of catching up with all your friends and family from across the world in one place, getting updates about their life and checking out pictures of all their important events was too much to resist. It was a great idea and we loved it, adding all our long lost friends and near and distant relatives as a consequence.
The trouble, however, started amid growing concerns over security issues that we maybe letting on our private lives to more than just friends. Coupled with the realization that we may not really want our parents to check out pictures of that wild weekend party or our bosses to read that latest status update where we are cribbing about their unreal expectations, the need for a much more controlled online space opened up. Here, we present 12 apps that cater to the growing needs of a private social network.
As evident from its name, Family Wall is designed as a one-stop, private online space for just your family. A cross-platform app, Family Wall allows you to connect and share stuff with your family seamlessly and securely.
With an easy to use interface, the app lets you create and name your family, add a photo as the timeline picture and invite all your family members via email or create an account directly inside the app. Alongside the usual features of messaging and sharing pictures and videos, the app also allows you to create group task lists, centralized family calendars and a family contact directory.
Built on the idea that most of us belong to a number of different groups in our social life and would like to share things selectively to one or the other groups that we belong to, EveryMe implements the concept of private groups within the app as “Circles”. As such, you can make different circles for your school and college buddies, your office mates, your family and even a private space with just your partner.
Aesthetically designed, EveryMe presents you with a beautiful timeline for all your circles where you can post updates, share pictures, comment and like other members’ updates and photos and change the cover photo to match the group theme. Boasting push notifications, the app also allows group members to respond via email and texts, thereby doing away with the necessity of all members installing the app.
Price: Free Requires: Android 2.2 or above Google Play Link:Everyme Developer:Everyme
23snaps is a private social networking app that helps you document the growing years of your newborn and share it with friends and family online.
The app lets you create multiple timelines for all your children, add pictures charting out their life growth, and post status updates to mark important events and milestones in their life, thereby creating a virtual life book for your child they can go through later on themselves. Packing a powerful set of readymade photo filters, the app allows you to invite family and friends through email or from your contact book, enabling them to share the joy of your child’s development.
Taking the concept of private networks even further, Between is an app designed specifically for couples to share and inhabit a personal online space just among themselves.
Boasting an absolutely gorgeous interface, the app allows you to create an intimate and personal timeline just for the two of you, complete with the ability to share pictures, post messages, chat in real time, create memos and document special events in your relationship. Commenting on photos and events are handled well with instant notifications and favorite pictures, and memos can be bookmarked for later in the Memory Box.
Possibly the most popular of all the private social networks, Path is built on the same basic premise of allowing you to connect and share your life to a select few rather than the whole mundane neighborhood.
Along with the usual bells and whistles of status updates, private messaging, sharing pictures, commenting on each other’s posts, the app has a couple of extra features up it’s sleeve helping distinguish it from the crowd. Handcrafted stickers usable in chats, readymade filters for your photos, ability to share the music, movies and books you’re hooked onto and cross-posting select updates to other social platforms, Path allows you to take advantage of all these features and more.
Price: Free Requires: Android Varies with device Google Play Link:Path Developer:Path, Inc.
A private social network that doubles up as a file sharing application, Bistri allows you to send photos and document files to your contacts privately and securely.
Creating an attractive timeline of your shared content, it also boasts Dropbox integration such that content can be shared not only from your local media but also from your cloud storage. Moreover, if the intended recipient is not a Bistri user, you can still share your content by just typing in their email ID.
GroupMe touts itself as the best way to group chat with everyone you know and it backs this claim well enough with a pretty comprehensive set of features.
Allowing you to create groups right from your contact list, GroupMe starts instant conversations and conference calls within the group. With every group being assigned a number, you can just text or call that number to initiate or be part of the conversation, thereby eliminating the need for everyone in the group to have the app installed on their cell phones. You can share photos and location, split bills and send private messages to any of the group members and if you are caught up in a remote location with no data connection, you can still be connected to the group chat via SMS.
Price: Free Requires: Android 2.2 or above Google Play Link:GroupMe Developer:groupme
Based on the concept of creating a unique private space around a particular event, Bonfyre allows you to share your experiences through pictures.
You can create individual bonfyres for the weekend family get together, the school reunion next month and that office promotion party and add a small description plus further details like location, start and end times. Invite people attending these events to their respective bonfyres, plan and discuss details about the events through a group chat and finally share all the amazing clicks to be viewed by only the people you have invited to the bonfyre. Invitations can be sent through Facebook, email or by scanning a barcode, and push notifications are implemented to keep you up to date. Photo memories are automatically created for all the bonfyres for you to relive and reminisce long forgotten events.
Another photo sharing app that lets you share pictures to all your near and dear ones privately, Familiar distinguishes itself by sending all your shared pictures right to the screens of your connections in real time.
Allowing you to login via Facebook or a new account, the app asks you to build your family by adding members with whom you will be sharing all your pictures. Pictures can be shared from your local album or imported from Facebook and Picasa albums and you have the option of automatically setting up your pictures as the screensaver and wallpaper on your family’s devices. You can save your favorite pictures to your local gallery and even have a slideshow played out from the app’s contents while your phone is charging.
Another app which is specifically designed just for the love birds among us, Avocado provides a private online platform for couples to stay connected and share their lives with each other.
You can chat real time and share pictures with your partner, plan your next date and even create grocery and to-do lists. Feeling romantic in the middle of the day? Avocado provides the perfect solution by allowing you to send virtual hugs and kisses right to your partner’s cell phone and if you are late for the evening date, just drop in a customizable quick note telling them so. With advanced data encryption and security features, Avocado creates a beautiful and secure timeline of your most cherished relationship.
Aiming to provide a private space to facilitate the managing of your relationships in the form of various groups or “Bands”, as the app calls it, Line Band offers another great alternative to the private social networking space in your life.
The app encourages you to segregate your online acquaintances into different groups and then share content securely with just the right audience. Designed in the form of paper notebooks, replete with customizable covers and ribbons, Line Band sports the usual features of posting updates, sharing pictures, instant chatting, alongside managing your group schedule and address book. One unique feature offered by Line Band is Mobile Poll where all the members of the band can vote to reach a particular decision.
WeChat attempts to offer a one stop, integrated solution to all our online interactions.
From image and video sharing to voice messages, voice and video calls to instant group messages, the app offers everything in a pretty seamless pack. With an incredibly simple login using your phone number, WeChat also boasts a unique feature called Moments where all your shared pictures are stored in a beautiful timeline. While WeChat does a good job of delivering on features, one grouse I had was its design which is distinctly iPhone-ish.
Those were 12 of the most interesting alternate social networking apps that place a premium on privacy and security, allowing you to connect and share content with specific and close-knit groups. This is obviously not an exhaustive list and there are many other alternatives on the Play Store, but I restricted my choice to these 12 apps as each one offers something unique to the user in its own right.
If you are a regular user of Facebook, Google + or Twitter, but often have to restrict your thoughts or debate a million times before sharing a certain picture due to the scary large audience, pick one or more of the above social networks, invite all the people that matter and find more freedom in discreet sharing!