Since it came to my attention that some of my posts were being omitted from Google search results, I decided that it was about time to remove Google’s influence from my computer and online activities.
Why would I do this? First, and most obviously, censorship is bad. Google is primarily a search engine, which makes them digital librarians. Because Google is omitting from search results pages that it deems problematic to the ideology of its staff, Google has become the book burners of the information age.
Second, I value my privacy. Google collects tons of information on its users. Google then uses this information for profit with targeted advertising. If you’re particularly stupid, you’ll see targeted advertising as another way to bridge the gap between yourself and products that you weren’t aware you would have wanted. Otherwise, you’ll see it as another technique for liberating your money from you.
While I’m aware that some of Google’s alternatives might have some similarity in business practice, Google is generally the worse option due to the nature of its agenda. Also, the fact that it’s actively censoring me makes the matter more personal.
First, if you’re still using Chrome as your browser, you should stop. There are numerous alternatives out there, and even Microsoft’s current default browser Edge isn’t so bad. After considering my options, I decided on Mozilla’s Firefox as my browser. There are lots of reasons to go with Firefox instead, but I found that I liked Firefox’s ability to store multiple themes, as opposed to Chrome, which makes you redownload old ones if you want to reuse them unless you use an extension. And even then, the extension wasn’t reliable.
The only real bother was making up a new list of favorites and bookmarks for my new browser. While there may have been an option to import them from Chrome, I decided to just start afresh, rather than eventually go to the trouble of deleting legacy bookmarks I don’t use anymore. It’s a new browser, and a new beginning.
When switching from Chrome, don’t forget to uninstall the Chrome browser so it won’t still be on your computer doing whatever it is that it does when you’re not using it. Paranoid? Maybe, but this is Google we’re talking about, here. And while you’re at it, remember to uninstall your other Google programs as well.
Second, you’re going to want to use a new search engine. Of the changes to make, this one was probably the easiest. Just remember to set whatever search engine you choose as the default on your new browser.
There are some pretty nice contenders for this category, notably Bing, which greets you with a pretty nice home screen which changes. But my choice was DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo is a well-developed search engine with the main selling points being that it doesn’t track you or store information about you. This already makes DuckDuckGo a winner, but it doesn’t censor search results like Google does. Big win.
One word of caution is that you should probably be a little careful about how you use DuckDuckGo. If you turn Safe Search off, it’s very easy to find Rule 34 in the image search. You’d see the internet the way it used to be. You might find that awesome, depending on who you are. But it might be a good idea to mind the Safe Search setting, depending on where you are and at what time.
EDIT (15 Nov 2020): DuckDuckGo has lost its integrity. Finding a different search engine is advised.
This is easily the hardest part of the de-Google process, because we tend to like having one email address for everything. After doing some research, I’ve determined that most mail clients are satisfactory, but I decided to go with Yahoo. As old as it is, Yahoo is still a decent email client.
I’ve been thinking of changing my email client for a while now, but I found the prospect of going to different sites and changing the email address in my profiles daunting. However, the main thing that prodded me on is that my ex-girlfriend decided to try to get revenge on me by using my old email address to sign me up for numerous online services so my inbox would be flooded with spam emails. I’m sure that what she’s doing is illegal, but I blame myself for not doing my due diligence in making sure that the women I’m interested in are not psychotic.
As it turns out, switching to a new email client isn’t that bad. It helps to make up a list of those you want to have your new email address, and notify them of the change. It’s also a good idea to update your resume and your online job search profiles. In case you miss someone, it’s not a bad idea to check your old inbox from time to time. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to go through the first few pages of your old inbox, making note of those you still want to receive email from.
I’ve never used cloud storage because I’m not an idiot. If you store your files externally, they can be accessed externally. Storing them using the internet doesn’t make them secure.
Suppose you took a picture of your genitals to copy into your sketchbook (because that’s more fun to draw than a bowl of fruit). If you then send the same picture to the cloud, you’re sending it through the internet, and having it stored where you have no idea how many times it’s copied or viewed by someone else.
If you’re running low on storage space, buy a bigger hard drive. Or an external hard drive. Or a thumb drive. All these choices are smarter than sending your files to the cloud.
Google already makes it it’s business to collect as much information about people as they can. Why trust them with your files?
What about YouTube?
YouTube is owned by Google, so one might think that an effective boycott of Google would include avoiding YouTube. However, Google is having a difficult time running YouTube due to the sheer number of users that use AdBlock. What’s more, Google’s attempts to pander to advertisers have upset YouTube content creators, so YouTube has had to walk on eggshells to keep the platform viable.
Therefore, I’m not really concerned with Google’s presence in YouTube, as the platform has proven to be a liability for Google to run. You’re more likely to spite Google by using YouTube. Besides, the YouTube alternatives that I’ve seen are varying degrees of suck.
That’s how I’ve been doing in de-Googling my computer and online activities. I suggest that you give it a try, too. Send Google a message letting them know that if they’re going to censor the people, then the people are going to hit them where it counts: right in the pocketbook.