Phil Dreizen

xkcd on instagram

Continuing from my previous discussion on degoogling my life, and particularly on not being a customer of what is ultimately an advertising company:


De-Googling my life - Introduction

I'm beginning the process of switching away from google as much as I can. There are several issues I have with continuing to use their services.

Google is an advertising company. When you use one of their products you are not their customer. Google's primary goal is to find a way to advertise to you. This has several consequences. Most troubling is that, in the persuit of this goal, all their software will collect an uncomfortable amount of information about the people using it. Gmail scans your email, search keeps track of everything you search, Google Maps for Android is constantly tracking your location, even more insidiously Google Play Store does the same. Google chrome tracks, well, every place you go. I'm fairly sure that Google Analytics primarily exists in large part to track users who are not part of the Google ecosystem, which is particularly intrusive since this is done without any consent.

Besides the privacy issue, not being google's customer changes the relationship you have with the company. Try getting in touch with anyone at Google, Facebook, or Instagram. Even if something serious happened. It's nearly impossible. (I can speak from experience here). These companies are not really beholden to you because you are not their customers, and they only care about user experiences in aggregate.

They exibit a lot of monopolistic behavior. Many of their services were not developed by google but were acquired. This includes: Google Docs, Youtube, Android, Google Voice...I suspect this list continues for quite a bit.

Now, I was/am a heavy user of Google. I've been using their search since the early 2000s, I've been using GMail since the days it required an invitation to join. I heavily use Google Maps. I watch a lot of videos on Youtube. For a while I had switched away from FireFox to Chrome.

Even this website makes use of google. The inconsolata webfont is from Google Fonts. There is a google search bar on the archives page. I've used youtube for sharing music here. And on one post used Google Ngrams.

Some fair questions to ask are: are Google's products always the best available, or are there better alternatives? Is the price of intrusion of privacy really the better option than paying money to a different company that provides the same service? Are there FOSS alternatives? I don't want to be too extreme here: I'm okay with watching a video on Youtube if it's something I want to watch and there is no alternative. But where possible, I want to find that alternative. My plan is to document the effort here.