Are you looking to have a less intrusive experience online? We live in an era of surveillance capitalism where certain mobile apps and social media platforms spy on you: what you search for online and the things you enjoy checking out or reading online. Do you get advertisements or engagement from companies selling products or services of things you had previously searched for? Are you curious about the coincidence? Well, keep reading to figure out how you can de-google your life because it was no coincidence.
Google Chrome is the most used browser in the world. However, in recent years they have taken steps which compromise the privacy of its users with the goal of using it for financial gain. While Chrome is quite popular, there are alternatives. Luckily, there are some really good alternatives to Chrome which respect your privacy.
When looking things up or doing research online, you spend most of your time online in a browser window. The browser window in turn exposes you to third parties many intrusive details about your behavioral information. Switching to Firefox as your default browser will greatly limit your exposure to online surveillance. Firefox is a great option because it automatically blocks many social media trackers as well as third party trackers. This means that Facebook, Google and other sites will not be able to track you and your online activities as you browse the web. Not only will Firefox block the invasive advertisements, but it will also be faster in terms of performance, giving you a calmer and distraction-free internet experience. You can also activate the enhanced tracking protection feature on Firefox to ensure a strict surveillance free online experience.
Did you know that what you search feeds the data algorithm of Google, which helps it create a profile of who you are and what you care about? Using DuckDuckGo as your default search engine will not spy on your activities for intrusive companies, which then try to advertise things around your interests on social media. Besides, DuckDuckGo will provide you with more unfiltered information based on what you are searching for unlike Google that keeps you in a filter bubble only showing you the results they think you want to see. It’s easy to switch to DuckDuckGo as Firefox has an option for it in settings.
Gmail is operated by Google. Why would you let the largest global advertising company have access to your email conversations and contact list? ProtonMail, on the other hand, will enable you to start fresh with a clean inbox. Make ProtonMail your default email and cut yourself away from the intrusive brands you have been exposed to for the last decade or more.
Another reason you need to move away from Gmail is that the advertising email messages you receive have trackers and embedded images that identify the emails you ignore and the ones you open. ProtonMail automatically blocks all these trackers and intrusive emails from reaching you. If you are looking to de-Google your life with ProtonMail, do it gradually. Start with a few less important accounts and gradually switch over more. ProtonMail is encrypted which means only you can access it. Mail from your ProtonMail account to another is end to end encrypted where as email from ProtonMail to another provider is not.
Another way you can de-google yourself is to replace Google Maps. Maps exposes sensitive information about your location such as where you work, restaurants you visit, and hangout places to Google. Using OpenStreetMap instead will allow you to discover and travel to new places without being tracked by Google. OpenStreetMap has no tracking or advertising features. That said, OpenStreepMaps is not as feature complete as Google Maps. If you are serious about de-Googling give this a try, if not, give this one a pass.
Did you know that after Google, Facebook is the second largest advertising company in the entire world? Using Facebook Messenger allows them to have an insight into your social connections and create an advertisement profile using that information. This will be used to entice you into buying products across the internet. Switching to a more secure messenger is one of the best things you can do. Signal is my messenger of choice. It’s end to end encrypted so long as the person you are chatting with is using Signal as well. It’s also a 501c3 nonprofit so we know where their funds come from.
The news that you come across on Facebook is determined by what the algorithm deems important to you. This means that you may not get information about what is going on around you and in the world. It’s all about how many clicks they can get. Google News is no exception. Using an RSS reader will help you take control back. RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. It was really popular just a decade ago but most sites still support it. This allows you to check for updates on a site without visiting that site in your web browser. A good RSS reader for Windows is Fluent Reader. There are lots of RSS readers out there. I recommend trying to find an open source one you like instead of the more popular closed source ones. Using an RSS reader means you need to locate the RSS feed of your favorite sites and add them manually. This can be quite daunting, however, once they’re setup the experience is quite refreshing.
De-Googling seems impossible. So many services we use are deeply integrated with Google. I highly encourage you to try to switch to something mentioned on this list. Who knows, you may get motivated to completely ditch Google altogether.