Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

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MCST
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Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by MCST »

I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.

I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
WoostaGal
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by WoostaGal »

... I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform ...
I've used Posteo for about the past four years. It is a very simple interface, not many bells and whistles, but I like it and appreciate the privacy it offers. I don't use my name in my email address.

One of the features you might appreciate about Protonmail is the ability to generate alias emails. I've started using a different alias for each company I interface with, i.e. banks, retailers, etc. Not using the same email address is supposed to help prevent tracking and profiling. There are other applications that may be used to generate aliases, but I find it convenient to be able to do this directly from Protmail.
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Beensabu
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Beensabu »

Your entire life is already tracked.

Unless you toss out your TV and cellphone and start using cash for everything, there's not much you can do about it.
"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next." ~Ursula LeGuin
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by 123 »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm ...Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
I use multiple email addresses for different purposes. I have one that I use with financial accounts, one that I use with family, one that I use with friends, one that is work-related (employment, co-workers and professional relationships, job hunting, professional associations), and another for junk purposes.

I use my name or a variation with all of my email except for the junk address.

All email addresses seem to attract phishing attacks.

A VPN can help to anonymize your activity. Even with a VPN browser fingerprinting can be an issue, maybe run a bare-bones browser without extensions and nothing fancy to reduce fingerprinting.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
JohnSlackIV
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by JohnSlackIV »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone.
MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?
iCloud email with a custom domain is a great way to go.

First off, a custom domain gives you the big benefit of being able to change email providers without having to change your email address. switching from Gmail to a custom domain will take some work, but once you’re on a custom domain, if you want to switch from iCloud to another provider, it will be MUCH easier.

I’ve never had an issue with renewals in 20 years of owning domains, across multiple providers. Registrars will give you plenty of advance notice of expirations - they want to keep the recurring revenue! - and you can always set a yearly reminder to check on renewal as a backup. They will also alert you in advance of any card issues typically.

The one downside of a custom domain is that you need to be ok with following directions and messing with settings (DNS) that you may not really understand unless you’re a techie. It’s not rocket science, anyone sufficiently motivated and reasonably good at following directions can do it, but something to call out.

Then, once you’re bought in to migrating to a custom domain, you need to decide who to use for email hosting. If you’re in the Apple ecosystem iCloud email using a custom domain is a great way to go. you can manage everything including things like email filters directly from your phone or your Mac, and everything is sent to and from your custom domain email address. Nobody will ever see your @icloud.com address.

There are other email providers too. Fastmail and Microsoft 365 are good recommendations. There are others.

Good luck!
gunny2
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by gunny2 »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?
Curious as I've never had an issue finding what I want with duckduckgo.
I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet.
You say you're concerned about privacy but don't want encryption. ? Which is it? You're afraid of too much security? ??

I never use my name online in any way for a user name.

My suggestions were going to be duckduckgo and protonmail :) Oh well! g/l to you
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Tejfyy
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Tejfyy »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.

I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
You might give tutamail a try. Free or $12 a year. Also a German company. I've been using them for several years as a main address. They don't have a few features I find helpful even with the $12 plan, such as an elegant search function on your mails. But all in all it's fine even for free to try out. I don't have a problem with phishing using an address that includes part of my name.
NYCaviator
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by NYCaviator »

Tejfyy wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:34 pm You might give tutamail a try. Free or $12 a year. Also a German company. I've been using them for several years as a main address. They don't have a few features I find helpful even with the $12 plan, such as an elegant search function on your mails. But all in all it's fine even for free to try out. I don't have a problem with phishing using an address that includes part of my name.
I looked at Posteo and Tutamail too, but I'm always worried how long these companies will be in business since they are so small? It's extremely difficult to switch email providers, which I guess is yet another reason to have your own domain.
roamingzebra
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by roamingzebra »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.
An oft-overlooked measure is to block Google Analytics. You can do this with ad/content blockers like UBlockOrigin (UBO), a browser add-on. Almost every modern web page has Google Analytics embedded in it, so the analytics contribute to the profile building. Google also owns Doubleclick, an ad company. UBO blocks that too.

Another good measure is to disable location services in your browser and OS. If you don't use a VPN, Google can get your general location via IP. But with location services turned off, it can't refine the location. This helps reduce the data collection when you're forced to use Google Maps, for example.
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illumination
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by illumination »

Get a VPN, use an Adblock widget like U block Origin. Use a Browser like Brave or Safari instead of Chrome. I find myself using Bing for search more often. Proton email works well. I have a "throwaway" Google account that doesn't have my real name as the email that I surf with and login to YouTube with, etc.

I'm not really trying to De-Google things, but all of these things are somewhat "undermining" Google's business model and I happen to like using them better anyway.
PersonalFinanceJam
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by PersonalFinanceJam »

Since you are completely in the Apple camp you can easily use iCloud either with a custom domain or not. I've run my own email domain for decades but not on iCloud. It can be somewhat complicated for the non technically minded. If you have any of the iCloud plus subscriptions, including the 99 cent a month one, in addition to extra storage you also get hide my email and private relay functionality. Hide my email creates an email alias pointed to your iCloud email so you don't have to give out your regular email. When using safari across any iOS or Mac OS device it will automatically suggest one when filling out an any kind of form with an email input. iCloud private relay is more like a network anonymizer and not a vpn. the problem with a vpn is your vpn provider can see all your traffic. There have been many issues with unscrupulous vpn providers eavesdropping on users traffic.

Email is an inherently insecure protocol built in an era where not all of this security stuff was front and center. Unless you are using one of the end to end encryption standards and exchanging keys with your contacts, the providers can see your email. Modern spam filtering basically requires it. Now they may not store everything in an unencrypted format but unless you are encrypting it in your client and the recipient can decrypt it on their end the two providers of the email can see the message at some point. The network providers along the way can't because the transport is encrypted but that's different than having the actual message encrypted. I believe the likes of proton when they say they are not profiling and using encryption at rest, but they are being a little disingenuous in my opinion making people believe they are somehow using "encrypted" email no provider can read. It's just not true in most cases. Additionally, if you communicate with someone who uses Google mail then that helps google build a profile for you.

All that said I support "de-googling" ones life. You probably have some of the tools already at your disposal. In an Apple environment I recommend the likes of duck duck go for searching and then add in Wipr for blocking ads on safari for MacOS and iOS (get it from the App Store). iCloud+ for email and private relay. It's not perfect, but I think it strikes a good balance between privacy and ease of use.
Second Round
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Second Round »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
Google search is getting worse while DDG is getting better. However, we're still not at crossover yet. Occasionally I'll try Bing too, and am open to others. I'm using broad search less and less, though. I search topic-specific forums and websites more often.

Email - my strategy is to have a strong "bench" or backup plan. I've not yet fully dumped Gmail, but I'm close and it won't be hard to cut the last ties. I use lastname@posteo.net for personal stuff, and as personal stuff, I don't mind my name being on it. At the level I pay, they offer two email aliases. Generally these are just forwarding emails, so if you must reply to an email that comes to an alias, it may be hard to fully disguise that it's coming from your main account. You can do a little though.

For commerce and professional work, I own my own johndoe.com domain and buy email hosting for it (I use Mythic Beasts in the UK). I use an extensive list of aliases for commercial/retail stuff. I might have say grocery@johndoe.com, usps@johndoe.com, vanguard@johndoe.com, etc. If I'm buying stuff from them, they know my name. Nothing gained in hiding it. But they don't have my main mailbox. They have their specific alias only. If I get spammed or phished, I'll delete that alias and create a replacement. [BTW, I find managing domain registration and hosting fairly straightforward. I add reminders on my calendar to renew in advance of expiration, or to check my bills, etc. You could also just draft a checklist of things you have on autopay, and consult it when your CC changes.]

So ... I pay for both of these rather than relying on "free". I'm terribly thrifty, but even I view these as worthwhile expenditures. I don't need nor buy their high-end plans, so my cost is pretty low. Yet my degree of control is very high.

In my view it's not hard to change emails. For personal, you can just send out a group email or three (if there are too many recipients) announcing your change. Use bcc, it's a good practice for such a thing. For commerce, you'll just have to log in to each site and make the change. You'll have to chip away at it - do a dozen or two a day for as many days as needed.

Apart from another old gmail account, I also have several email via my ISP (often not recommended, since it's possibly not portable), and as a last resort, an address with sdf.org. Beyond the last resort I have a notion of other email providers like fastmail, runbox, and so forth.

I think the only emails I have that don't use my real name are the unimportant ones: @sdf.org, @myisp.com, and the @gmail.com one that is eventually going away. Again, my personal contacts know my name. The places I buy stuff from with a credit card, or have accounts with, know my name. I keep anonymity on web forums, but I don't list my email on them anyway. There just aren't many entities I'd provide an email to that I'd want or need to hide my name from. If I were emailing anonymous tips or whisteblower stuff I sure would get a burner email. But I've not had a need for that. I guess if I registered for a web forum and had to provide an email to the webmasters, I might use one of my two posteo aliases rather than lastname@posteo.net.

Aside: I do not use IMAP, I use POP and download all my email locally via an email client (Claws). Although this means I don't have all my email accessible from any device anywhere all the time. I do this purposefully to not have my email sitting out on a mailserver in the cloud. I don't want that, so I give up some convenience and have to be responsible for backing up my email (just as any other personal files). At the same time, I don't have to buy much storage, so I can get by with their cheapest plans.
yules
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by yules »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.

I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
You think Apple isn’t tracking you just as hard as Google is?
marcopolo
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by marcopolo »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.

I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
First of all, do you really think Apple is not doing similar tracking?!? I can assure you that they are.

You are going to get ads anyway, would you rather have them be something you might be interested in, or just random things?
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
rolandtorres
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by rolandtorres »

I think the privacy experts here are baffled by you singling out Google when almost every website you visit like Amazon, every app you have installed like Facebook, every video you watch on any streaming service are all building profiles on you and many in ways a lot more invasive and with ad vendors a lot less reputable than Google. Of all the companies I'd look to dissassociate from because of their privacy practices, Google wouldn't be on the list. And that's not even factoring in the utility of their services relative to their privacy practices.

that said, Verge had a good writeup on using AI services like Perplexity.ai to do search- it works for some areas, not so much in others. https://www.theverge.com/24111326/ai-se ... gle-review
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MCST
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by MCST »

marcopolo wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 11:01 pm
First of all, do you really think Apple is not doing similar tracking?!? I can assure you that they are.

You are going to get ads anyway, would you rather have them be something you might be interested in, or just random things?
I'm sure they do to some extent, but Apple is very transparent about their emphasis on privacy, and to my knowledge they haven't been found to be lying yet. Look at how mad Facebook et al got when they introduced new features in Safari that prevented tracking. Ultimately Apple isn't an advertising machine, and you pay for their products, so they don't have a need to create a creepy advertising profile of you.

If Google were just email, I'd have less of a problem. But the second you log into a google account it tracks you everywhere. You can turn off features like location, YouTube, etc. but they don't make it easy.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by jebmke »

MCST wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:33 am
marcopolo wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 11:01 pm
First of all, do you really think Apple is not doing similar tracking?!? I can assure you that they are.

You are going to get ads anyway, would you rather have them be something you might be interested in, or just random things?
I'm sure they do to some extent, but Apple is very transparent about their emphasis on privacy, and to my knowledge they haven't been found to be lying yet. Look at how mad Facebook et al got when they introduced new features in Safari that prevented tracking. Ultimately Apple isn't an advertising machine, and you pay for their products, so they don't have a need to create a creepy advertising profile of you.

If Google were just email, I'd have less of a problem. But the second you log into a google account it tracks you everywhere. You can turn off features like location, YouTube, etc. but they don't make it easy.
Use an email client like T-Bird. No need to have your browser logged in.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Second Round
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Second Round »

marcopolo wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 11:01 pm You are going to get ads anyway, would you rather have them be something you might be interested in, or just random things?
If I had to choose, I'd rather have them be random things, because such ads are easier for me to ignore. Your attention and time are limited resources, and ads are meant to take some of that from you (as well as manipulate you in various ways). It's often hard to find peace of mind in this world; I find that reducing my exposure to advertising helps quite a bit.
Second Round
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Second Round »

jebmke wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:37 am Use an email client like T-Bird. No need to have your browser logged in.
I think that Google will eventually do away with the ability to access gmail via any portal/program/application but one that they control. They have already taken steps in this direction via requiring app passwords for some email clients they don't like (and the alternative, which IIRC involved implementing OAuth2 or something like that, was, for me, an extremely complicated and ultimately indecipherable process that appeared to require setting up a developer account - I eventually gave up, got the app passwords, and am prepared for Google to yank that method in the near future. The language they use clearly implies that they view app passwords as only a temporary concession. So I have arranged for my email lifeboats to be ready.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by jebmke »

Second Round wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 7:55 am
jebmke wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:37 am Use an email client like T-Bird. No need to have your browser logged in.
I think that Google will eventually do away with the ability to access gmail via any portal/program/application but one that they control. They have already taken steps in this direction via requiring app passwords for some email clients they don't like (and the alternative, which IIRC involved implementing OAuth2 or something like that, was, for me, an extremely complicated and ultimately indecipherable process that appeared to require setting up a developer account - I eventually gave up, got the app passwords, and am prepared for Google to yank that method in the near future. The language they use clearly implies that they view app passwords as only a temporary concession. So I have arranged for my email lifeboats to be ready.
Could be; I use Google services in Chrome only and in Chrome I use nothing else (Drive, Calendar). I almost never use search now since IMO 80%+ of what is on the internet is total garbage. In the rare situation I use Google for search I tend to do it on a singe site I know -- and use my VM to do it). Targeted ads have plummeted. I was wondering though why I was getting an ad for a stealth bomber on one mainstream news site -- didn't seem obvious to me even assuming random ad service.

Also, many of the people I use email with seem to have shifted to text messaging. Quite a few only check email a couple of times a week so it may be that email withers along with other things internet.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
WhyNotUs
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by WhyNotUs »

MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?
Duck Duck has improved, it is still not as good as Google but the more people use it the better it will get.

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.
If your email is personal only it is easier to make a change. I dropped a domain name email several years ago for a Google one to simplify. Not sure that was the best choice.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?
You will get bombed with email reminders to renew, you could also pay several years in advance.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.

My domain was name based, my filters are pretty tight so I did not notice a big difference in phishing.
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SmileyFace
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by SmileyFace »

Beensabu wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:34 pm Your entire life is already tracked.

Unless you toss out your TV and cellphone and start using cash for everything, there's not much you can do about it.
This is the attitude I have adopted. And I am not concerned if I am being tracked - in some ways it's useful to get ads and information tailored to my preferences.
Interestingly I turned OFF some of the google privacy features - I find going back and finding out what day I drove to a certain place can be useful (thanks Google). It also tells me how long my morning walk was.
Next thing to do is to change SmileyFace to my real name I suppose. :wink:
Whakamole
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Whakamole »

It's not just Google tracking you: https://proton.me/blog/outlook-is-micro ... on-service


I'm a happy Proton user. Am I still being tracked? Probably... but not as much, and I'm a harder target. Plus my emails aren't being read anymore.
Second Round
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Second Round »

Whakamole wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:25 am
I'm a happy Proton user. Am I still being tracked? Probably... but not as much, and I'm a harder target. Plus my emails aren't being read anymore.
Depends on your email correspondents. Who do they use for email? There's a copy at each end.

I considered Proton at the time I chose Posteo, but IIRC, it didn't offer POP that worked with independent email clients like Claws or Thunderbird. You had to use their "bridge" software or something to access your email. Maybe that's no longer the case.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by roamingzebra »

Second Round wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 7:48 am If I had to choose, I'd rather have them be random things, because such ads are easier for me to ignore. Your attention and time are limited resources, and ads are meant to take some of that from you (as well as manipulate you in various ways). It's often hard to find peace of mind in this world; I find that reducing my exposure to advertising helps quite a bit.
100% agree. When you think about it, the constant bombardment with ads is dehumanizing.

I despise most corporate web sites these days because of the manipulation, bloat, distracting images and ads. Plus their CSS forces you to use their layout and font size. That goes against what HTML was originally meant to do. Add to that the super annoying gate-keeping with Cloudfare (Are you a human?) and Google Captcha. And even requiring you to log in to read all the customer reviews at some online retail sites. (Amazon is quickly losing my business.) I hate what commercialization has done to the web.

I always love it when I encounter a 90s style website. :)
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by roamingzebra »

Second Round wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:41 am I considered Proton at the time I chose Posteo, but IIRC, it didn't offer POP that worked with independent email clients like Claws or Thunderbird. You had to use their "bridge" software or something to access your email. Maybe that's no longer the case.
It's still the case.

I might be tempted to try the bridge option, but I figure it probably is slow...as I find Protonmail in general to be slow. If it could be established that Proton's bridge software was as fast and responsive as Thunderbird, I might be tempted to get a pay subscription.
syngameon
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by syngameon »

I have tried all other browsers including Firefox for the last six months and I am sorely disappointed. We are just going to have to live with Chrome. Try to tweak as much privacy settings as you can.
funyun
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by funyun »

MCST wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:33 am
marcopolo wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 11:01 pm
First of all, do you really think Apple is not doing similar tracking?!? I can assure you that they are.

You are going to get ads anyway, would you rather have them be something you might be interested in, or just random things?
I'm sure they do to some extent, but Apple is very transparent about their emphasis on privacy, and to my knowledge they haven't been found to be lying yet. Look at how mad Facebook et al got when they introduced new features in Safari that prevented tracking. Ultimately Apple isn't an advertising machine, and you pay for their products, so they don't have a need to create a creepy advertising profile of you.

If Google were just email, I'd have less of a problem. But the second you log into a google account it tracks you everywhere. You can turn off features like location, YouTube, etc. but they don't make it easy.
Apple has 100% created an advertising profile for you. They absolutely track everything you do just as much as Google. They do have fabulous marketing and seem a bit more choosy about who they let access the information - but that is not the same thing as not doing it. We've tried removing as much tracking as we can from our lives. It's near impossible to remove google (and amazon for that matter) from your life entirely. Even if you don't use their services, they provide underlying services in so many instances that it's basically not possible. Just think of how far-reaching things like AWS are - if you go to a website, AWS is probably there. That said, we still at least make sure we stay logged out of google as much as possible on our devices. We don't use things like google docs. We have a fake google account for our TV so we can watch youtube on that. One of us runs Graphene on our phones which is basically a degoogled version of android. We do as much as we can to obfuscate our online IDs, but there's definitely a line that's easy to cross where it's all just too much hassle. So you have to decide what you're comfortable cutting out.
funyun
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by funyun »

Some food for thought - Proton has a blog entry talking about Apple's so-called privacy. https://proton.me/blog/iphone-privacy
jayjayc
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by jayjayc »

Try Startpage or Brave for search. Startpage fetches Google results but removes all the tracking. I like Brave Search these days since it fetches Reddit and has a convenient summary at the top.

Here's a good resource for Google alternatives: https://www.privacyguides.org/en/tools/

edit: you can use any browser to use Brave Search.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by muffins14 »

yules wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 10:50 pm
MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.

I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
You think Apple isn’t tracking you just as hard as Google is?
Indeed. Apple is also tracking for analytics and for advertisements. Google provides good products and I'm very happy with them. I use gmail, documents, slides, sheets, maps, chrome
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SmileyFace
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by SmileyFace »

muffins14 wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 4:23 pm
yules wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 10:50 pm
MCST wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:13 pm I am pretty well in the Apple ecosystem with iMac, laptop, and iPhone. I still use Google for search and Gmail for email, but I am looking to switch to something else for privacy reasons. I was pretty alarmed when I went into some of the Google privacy settings and saw just how much they tracked me online. I'd prefer to just cut the Google cord entirely.

I tried using Duck Duck Go a few years ago and it was terrible. I'd nearly always end up on Google to find what I wanted. Has it gotten better, or are there other alternatives?

Email is going to be the hardest. I've had my Gmail account for well over a decade. I also have a free iCloud account, but I hardly use it. The spam folder seems to get filled up with hundreds of emails a day. I also don't like that the email address is my full name.

I thought about doing my own domain, but I am worried about what happens if my credit card number changes and it is on auto-renew. Do I lose access to my email?

I also looked at Posteo. It's a German company that costs 1 EUR/month and seems to be highly rated. No ads, no email scanning, and works across almost any platform.

I don't need anything like Protonmail. I don't care about crazy encryption, I just don't want a company building an ad profile using my emails or tracking me across the internet. Google says it doesn't scan your emails, but it certainly tracks you anytime you are logged in.

Finally, for your actual email address, do you use your name or a variant thereof? It seems like first name/last name @ xyz.com would just invite phishing attacks.
You think Apple isn’t tracking you just as hard as Google is?
Indeed. Apple is also tracking for analytics and for advertisements. Google provides good products and I'm very happy with them. I use gmail, documents, slides, sheets, maps, chrome
In some ways - Google may be better because they expose a lot of privacy setting dials and knobs in their products for those that want to dial things back. Apple exposes very little.
syc
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by syc »

From today's Guardian website:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... cy-lawsuit

"Suit claimed tech giant tracked activity of people who thought they were privately using its Chrome browser’s incognito mode"

I've used duckduckgo search for many years with excellent results.

For email, I have fastmail, tuta, posteo, and proton. I have several different accounts that I use for different purposes. I am convinced all of those companies are more private and more secure than Gmail.

There are a number of browser alternatives to Chrome. I like Mullvad and Librewolf, but there are many others.

Use a VPN. There are many good ones to choose from.

And don't forget your cell phone, if you have one. Get a phone that can accomodate Graphene for an operating system.

Some (but not all) of the steps above require paying a fee. Remember, if you aren't paying, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.
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Tejfyy
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Tejfyy »

NYCaviator wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:47 pm
Tejfyy wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:34 pm You might give tutamail a try. Free or $12 a year. Also a German company. I've been using them for several years as a main address. They don't have a few features I find helpful even with the $12 plan, such as an elegant search function on your mails. But all in all it's fine even for free to try out. I don't have a problem with phishing using an address that includes part of my name.
I looked at Posteo and Tutamail too, but I'm always worried how long these companies will be in business since they are so small? It's extremely difficult to switch email providers, which I guess is yet another reason to have your own domain.
tutamail just had their 10th anniversary FWIW.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by vnatale »

I have two Google essentials. Messages and Calendar. The Messages allows me to sync with my phone texts and do much of my texting from this computer keyboard.

Only rarely use Google as a search engine. Since 2013 it's been almost exclusively Bing.

I have Business Dropbox so all my cloud files are kept there (and encrypted).

I also have an ancient email program (Eudora (and which has not been updated since 2007) located only on this computer.

I have my own domain so I can create my own email address (no one will ever be able to change it on me) and have web hosting so that all email is hosted there.
Above provided by: Vinny, who always says: "I only regret that I have but one lap to give to my cats." AND "I'm a more-is-more person."
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by roamingzebra »

syc wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 8:49 pm And don't forget your cell phone, if you have one. Get a phone that can accomodate Graphene for an operating system.
The irony is you have to buy a Google Pixel in order to install GrapheneOS. :D
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by anagram »

funyun wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:49 pm
MCST wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:33 am
marcopolo wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 11:01 pm
First of all, do you really think Apple is not doing similar tracking?!? I can assure you that they are.

You are going to get ads anyway, would you rather have them be something you might be interested in, or just random things?
I'm sure they do to some extent, but Apple is very transparent about their emphasis on privacy, and to my knowledge they haven't been found to be lying yet. Look at how mad Facebook et al got when they introduced new features in Safari that prevented tracking. Ultimately Apple isn't an advertising machine, and you pay for their products, so they don't have a need to create a creepy advertising profile of you.

If Google were just email, I'd have less of a problem. But the second you log into a google account it tracks you everywhere. You can turn off features like location, YouTube, etc. but they don't make it easy.
Apple has 100% created an advertising profile for you. They absolutely track everything you do just as much as Google. They do have fabulous marketing and seem a bit more choosy about who they let access the information - but that is not the same thing as not doing it. We've tried removing as much tracking as we can from our lives. It's near impossible to remove google (and amazon for that matter) from your life entirely. Even if you don't use their services, they provide underlying services in so many instances that it's basically not possible. Just think of how far-reaching things like AWS are - if you go to a website, AWS is probably there. That said, we still at least make sure we stay logged out of google as much as possible on our devices. We don't use things like google docs. We have a fake google account for our TV so we can watch youtube on that. One of us runs Graphene on our phones which is basically a degoogled version of android. We do as much as we can to obfuscate our online IDs, but there's definitely a line that's easy to cross where it's all just too much hassle. So you have to decide what you're comfortable cutting out.
Can you list what Apple tracks? Since Safari blocks all trackers I wonder how they are doing this?
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by roamingzebra »

anagram wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 9:45 pm Can you list what Apple tracks? Since Safari blocks all trackers I wonder how they are doing this?
I'm not the one you're responding to, but I was curious myself.

The following links (the first previously posted) detail the privacy issues with iOS. It seems Apple is doing its tracking within the Apple ecosystem -- currently focused on the App Store and its News and Stocks app. But it's getting aggressive about the tracking because hardware sales are slumping. It's looking to advertising as a source of new revenue.

https://proton.me/blog/iphone-privacy
https://proton.me/blog/apple-ad-company
How Apple’s tracking works

On Nov. 20, a pair of iOS developers known as Mysk discovered that Apple has a specific identifier (a “directory services identifier” or DSID) for every Apple iCloud account. It uses DSID to collect detailed information about your behavior in Apple apps and the App Store, and there’s no way for you to turn it off.

It is worth noting that the DSID is also sent by other Apple apps for analytics purposes.

You just need to know three things:
1- The App Store sends detailed analytics about you to Apple
2- There's no way to stop it
3- Analytics data are directly linked to you
— Mysk (@mysk_co) November 21, 2022

As far as Safari is concerned, I'm guessing that's the one area where Apple has increased privacy by blocking third-party tracking. I don't use Apple products so this is just what I gather from various sources.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by gunny2 »

illumination wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 9:27 pm Get a VPN, use an Adblock widget like U block Origin. Use a Browser like Brave or Safari instead of Chrome. I find myself using Bing for search more often.
Bing is owned by Microsoft. Seems to me that's six of one, half-dozen of the other. Anyway, I use the Brave browser, love it.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by anagram »

roamingzebra wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 10:49 pm
anagram wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 9:45 pm Can you list what Apple tracks? Since Safari blocks all trackers I wonder how they are doing this?
I'm not the one you're responding to, but I was curious myself.

The following links (the first previously posted) detail the privacy issues with iOS. It seems Apple is doing its tracking within the Apple ecosystem -- currently focused on the App Store and its News and Stocks app. But it's getting aggressive about the tracking because hardware sales are slumping. It's looking to advertising as a source of new revenue.

https://proton.me/blog/iphone-privacy
https://proton.me/blog/apple-ad-company
How Apple’s tracking works

On Nov. 20, a pair of iOS developers known as Mysk discovered that Apple has a specific identifier (a “directory services identifier” or DSID) for every Apple iCloud account. It uses DSID to collect detailed information about your behavior in Apple apps and the App Store, and there’s no way for you to turn it off.

It is worth noting that the DSID is also sent by other Apple apps for analytics purposes.

You just need to know three things:
1- The App Store sends detailed analytics about you to Apple
2- There's no way to stop it
3- Analytics data are directly linked to you
— Mysk (@mysk_co) November 21, 2022

As far as Safari is concerned, I'm guessing that's the one area where Apple has increased privacy by blocking third-party tracking. I don't use Apple products so this is just what I gather from various sources.
I understand you are not the poster I replied to.

The implication earlier is that Apple is tracking you like Google and Microsoft and Amazon. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The "tracking" in the App Store and News app is well known and it has been discussed on other sites. I guess this is like Netflix "tracking" you when you watch movies.

The earlier quote referring to Apple, "They absolutely track everything you do just as much as Google." is simply wrong.

I'm sympathetic to what Proton is doing but I have noticed a lot of their blog articles are "scareware".
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by olefoodie »

I'm unable to give up my Gmail accounts because I find them useful for receiving 2FA texts via Google Voice (accounts are secured via Yubikey). Given that, I've figured out a way to minimize how much Google can track me while I surf the web on my Macbook Air. At the same time, I think I've figured out a way to minimize how much Apple can track me while I surf the web too. It's a two prong approach, and there are some assumptions built in, but I think this works ideally for me. The first and most important strategy is to surf the web using the Brave browser in incognito mode. My assumption there is that Apple can't track my online activities with that method since Brave prevents any tracking to occur and it basically "forgets" me when I close the browser. I never see any ads while I'm surfing, so that's a bonus right there.

To minimize Google tracking, I created two profiles for the browser. The main profile is the one I use is for surfing. The second profile I call "Google" is for anything I need to do within the Google environment - Gmail, Maps, Docs, etc. My understanding is that with these two profiles, even if I am signed into Gmail in the second profile, it cannot see the stuff I'm doing in the first profile. Google is essentially siloed and can only ever see that I am doing Googley things. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Bobby206 »

Beensabu wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:34 pm Your entire life is already tracked.

Unless you toss out your TV and cellphone and start using cash for everything, there's not much you can do about it.
Yup. My thoughts exactly.

Accept it and move on to other worries would be my thought.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by anagram »

olefoodie wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 9:51 am I'm unable to give up my Gmail accounts because I find them useful for receiving 2FA texts via Google Voice (accounts are secured via Yubikey). Given that, I've figured out a way to minimize how much Google can track me while I surf the web on my Macbook Air. At the same time, I think I've figured out a way to minimize how much Apple can track me while I surf the web too. It's a two prong approach, and there are some assumptions built in, but I think this works ideally for me. The first and most important strategy is to surf the web using the Brave browser in incognito mode. My assumption there is that Apple can't track my online activities with that method since Brave prevents any tracking to occur and it basically "forgets" me when I close the browser. I never see any ads while I'm surfing, so that's a bonus right there.

To minimize Google tracking, I created two profiles for the browser. The main profile is the one I use is for surfing. The second profile I call "Google" is for anything I need to do within the Google environment - Gmail, Maps, Docs, etc. My understanding is that with these two profiles, even if I am signed into Gmail in the second profile, it cannot see the stuff I'm doing in the first profile. Google is essentially siloed and can only ever see that I am doing Googley things. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.
Apple is not tracking you on the web. Safari blocks all trackers. Furthermore if you want to you can use Profiles in Safari also and they are isolated.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by the_wiki »

DuckDuckGO or Brave for searches. Bing is getting better, but they are also collecting ad data.

You've touched on email alternatives. Apple is probably the main free one that won't have any incentive to monetize your data. Or you can pay a provider. As for address format, you don't want it to sound unprofessional if you ever use it for business or job hunting. So I typically do just use some form of my name. Might be a touch easier to guess, but most addresses get in the hands of spammers from data sale or loss. So I figure whatever I use, it is only a matter of time anyway.

Google Docs/Sheets/Etc - Local applications. Things like LibreOffice don't require an account or login. Apple has some free office apps (pages/numbers/keynote) you might find good enough . Microsoft Office, obviously, but again, probably are tracking like Google if you are always logged in.

Photos/Drive - many cloud storage alternatives or local storage and backups.

Maps - Apple maps, Waze

Youtube - no real alternatives, although specific creators may offer things as podcasts or patreon, etc.
olefoodie
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by olefoodie »

anagram wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:00 am
Apple is not tracking you on the web. Safari blocks all trackers. Furthermore if you want to you can use Profiles in Safari also and they are isolated.
Oh good to know. I am new to the Apple environment so I'm still learning as I go!
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illumination
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by illumination »

gunny2 wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:39 pm
illumination wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 9:27 pm Get a VPN, use an Adblock widget like U block Origin. Use a Browser like Brave or Safari instead of Chrome. I find myself using Bing for search more often.
Bing is owned by Microsoft. Seems to me that's six of one, half-dozen of the other. Anyway, I use the Brave browser, love it.
I know, but the goal was to de-Google, not de-Big Tech.

Almost all of these alternatives have some business model that includes figuring out who their users are and tailoring ads to them. Just some promise better anonymity than others. Apple for instance promises better privacy and tracking, but then takes billions from Google to make them the default search engine.

I happen to think Google owning nearly EVERYTHING (search, email, browser, advertising, YouTube, android, Google Docs) etc is probably the one you most want to worry about in terms of privacy because it has just has its finger in nearly everything. They also just had to settle a pretty major lawsuit because it was revealed their "incognito" mode was also tracking users.


https://time.com/6962521/google-incogni ... ettlement/
falconsfan
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by falconsfan »

Bobby206 wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 9:53 am
Beensabu wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:34 pm Your entire life is already tracked.

Unless you toss out your TV and cellphone and start using cash for everything, there's not much you can do about it.
Yup. My thoughts exactly.

Accept it and move on to other worries would be my thought.
Why accept it? We should have the right to easily opt out of all this invasion of privacy. You want to stay in that's fine. It should be a choice. The danger of google is the shear amount of data they harvest on you. Think of your grandkids. Most public schools require the use of google docs and gmail. Google will have not only their search history and location history but most of their school work and life details in emails. So imagine in 20 years when AI can harvest and aggregate all that and it is sold to anyone who wants to pay for it. I fear the consequences for my grandkids when every movement, school work, friend network, etc. is out there for sale. What could go wrong? Google is a search monopoly and should be broken up.
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by jebmke »

the_wiki wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:14 am DuckDuckGO or Brave for searches. Bing is getting better, but they are also collecting ad data.
There is just so "good" they can get if the bulk of the info on the internet is junk though. I suppose they can get better and better at .filtering out the junk but they really have no easy way to determine what info is "true" and what isn't. So far, AI has proven to not be all that helpful in the quest for truth.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
jayjayc
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by jayjayc »

De-Googling doesn't need to be an all or nothing ordeal. You can take it step-by-step, starting with the easiest. Moving from Chrome to Firefox/Brave/Safari is easy, especially if you want to use a chromium based browser. Changing search engines isn't bad either. I stopped using Google Maps and moved over to Apple Maps and Magic Earth.
Bobby206
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Re: Tips for De-Googling my digital life?

Post by Bobby206 »

falconsfan wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 2:13 pm
Bobby206 wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 9:53 am
Beensabu wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:34 pm Your entire life is already tracked.

Unless you toss out your TV and cellphone and start using cash for everything, there's not much you can do about it.
Yup. My thoughts exactly.

Accept it and move on to other worries would be my thought.
Why accept it? We should have the right to easily opt out of all this invasion of privacy. You want to stay in that's fine. It should be a choice. The danger of google is the shear amount of data they harvest on you. Think of your grandkids. Most public schools require the use of google docs and gmail. Google will have not only their search history and location history but most of their school work and life details in emails. So imagine in 20 years when AI can harvest and aggregate all that and it is sold to anyone who wants to pay for it. I fear the consequences for my grandkids when every movement, school work, friend network, etc. is out there for sale. What could go wrong? Google is a search monopoly and should be broken up.
You make my point. Thank you. I am not saying your fears are unfounded or inaccurate but I just choose to ignore them. I accept it and I avoid all that stress and fear that you have. I don't deal with stress/anxiety very well so the less I have the better. To each their own. Best of luck with opting out of everything that is tracking you! ;)
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