In a previous episode of “Privacy Claw-back”, I deleted the contents of and removed my Facebook account. That was kind of hard to do at the time as I wasted a whole lot of time on Facebook – it was really fun reconnecting with old friends.
However, I began to think critically about Facebook. This is where all of the problems come in. Facebook’s creation is a tale of amazing scale, ingenuity and engineering prowess. The dark side of the equation is the unprecedented knowledge that can be gleaned from our data about us. The impulse to use this data improperly is probably impossible to resist.
Google is another can of worms. They did not become the biggest search engine for nothing. The amount of information Google has about you, your spouse, your friends, kids, your preferences, likes, dislikes, where you go, who you talk to, what might ail you, political views – it goes on and on and on.
It is time for me to disconnect from Google. Can I do this and still have a positive internet experience? I hope so. I began this process over a year ago when I switched to a PAID email service, pobox.com. It works pretty good. I am fairly confident my email is not datamined, and the web UI is OK – not the best. (That is what Thunderbird is for). However, I kept my GMail accounts and Google-hosted mail service intact (but idle), just in case.
For search, I switched to DuckDuckGo.com well over a year ago. It has gotten really, really good. I have found myself using Google less and less. I even changed my “urlbar keyword” search in Firefox to use DuckDuckGo. (I occasionally use Bing and Yahoo as well).
Twitter is the only hold-out as I feel like Twitter is “not evil yet”. Perhaps someday Twitter will become a protocol. That, I hope, will be inevitable.
Today, as I read about Google’s new non-opt-out privacy policies, it occurred to me that I really don’t rely on Google anymore, I have slowly freed myself from that dependency. I may yet have issues using certain apps on my Android device and I need to figure that out next. (Yay, Boot2Gecko!).
In the meantime, I have taken this experiment up one notch by adding google.com and http://www.google.com to resolve to my local webserver in /etc/hosts – my machine can no longer reach Google or Facebook. (or Google analytics servers for that matter).
The point is, there are many great internet services out there that you can rely on to handle search, email and social that don’t infringe on your privacy, try them out!