38 votes

I cut Google out of my life. It screwed up everything

14 comments

  1. [5]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    This is the most problematic thing to me. While, theoretically, I have qualms about letting Google analyze my data in exchange for useful services, the centralization of the web is a much more...

    “Your smart home pings Google at the same time every hour in order to determine whether or not it’s connected to the internet,” Dhruv tells me. “Which is funny to me because these devices’ engineers decided to determine connectivity to the entire internet based on the uptime of a single company. It’s a good metaphor for how far the internet has strayed from its original promise to decentralize control.”

    In some cases, the Google block means apps won’t work at all, like Lyft and Uber, or Spotify, whose music is hosted in Google Cloud. The more frequent effect of the Google block though is that the internet itself slows down dramatically for me.

    Most of the websites I visit have frustratingly long load times because so many of them rely on resources from Google and get confused when my computer won’t let them talk to the company’s servers. On Airbnb, photos won’t load. New York Times articles won’t appear until the site has tried (and failed) to load Google Analytics, Google Pay, Google News, Google ads, and a Doubleclick tracker.

    As I sit staring at my screen and drumming my fingers, I get flashbacks to computing via dial-up in the ’90s, when I used to read a book while waiting for websites to open. It’s amazing to see how often sites are trying to serve trackers, ads, and analytics from Google before their own content.

    This is the most problematic thing to me. While, theoretically, I have qualms about letting Google analyze my data in exchange for useful services, the centralization of the web is a much more practical problem. What if Google were to be broken up by the U.S. government for antitrust? (It wasn’t so long ago that U.S. corporations might actually fear the government/people.)

    There is an analogy here to the consolidation of banks (another problem in the U.S.): Google is too big to fail. For individuals, their services are too good to give up for theoretical privacy concerns. And for other companies, their services are so ubiquitous that they can rely on Google for everything from click tracking, to captchas, to authentication (who doesn’t have a Gmail account?). If humanity were smarter, we wouldn’t allow something as precious as the web to be so thoroughly coopted by a single entity.

    26 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      There are various other worrisome centralization aspects with Google that she didn't address as well. For example, while she stopped using her own Gmail accounts, if she truly wanted to avoid...

      There are various other worrisome centralization aspects with Google that she didn't address as well. For example, while she stopped using her own Gmail accounts, if she truly wanted to avoid Google she also shouldn't have been able to send email to anyone else using Gmail either—it's pretty much the same to Google if they get the email as either outgoing or incoming, it's the same data. That restriction probably would have made email almost completely unusable, because so much of email goes through Google.

      23 votes
      1. Nmg
        Link Parent
        Ideally, if it really matters, one can always use pgp keys to encrypt their email.

        Ideally, if it really matters, one can always use pgp keys to encrypt their email.

        5 votes
    2. Nmg
      Link Parent
      Other than those provided by school or work, I don't have a google account. Yes it's possible. No, it's not always practical, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I concede, I am only able to do...

      Other than those provided by school or work, I don't have a google account. Yes it's possible. No, it's not always practical, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I concede, I am only able to do this due to being a technical person. Between lineageOS and fdroid, protonmail, nextcloud, and syncthing, and even trying to use openstreetmaps (it has a long way to go), I have gone far ways to de-googling my life.

      6 votes
  2. rfr
    (edited )
    Link
    Interesting that the Yale lecturer was using CopperheadOS, but nobody should be using Copperhead at this point in time. The last version from Daniel Micay (the technical lead behind CopperheadOS,...

    Interesting that the Yale lecturer was using CopperheadOS, but nobody should be using Copperhead at this point in time. The last version from Daniel Micay (the technical lead behind CopperheadOS, now working on Android Hardening with sample AOSP builds now available) is horribly out of date and the current OS by that company is not developed with security in mind.

    For more information on why one shouldn't use the product offered by the Copperhead company:
    Last post "Goodbye" by /u/strncat (Daniel Micay's suspended account)
    "Stop Using This", a post on the Copperhead subreddit warning about the risks of remaining on the last build Daniel pushed out plus a response from Daniel's new account /u/DanielMicay.

    12 votes
  3. [2]
    patience_limited
    Link
    To the extent that "Great Firewall" countries like China and Russia are trying to control their citizens' access, I'm curious about what they're doing to block and replace Google, in particular....

    To the extent that "Great Firewall" countries like China and Russia are trying to control their citizens' access, I'm curious about what they're doing to block and replace Google, in particular.

    For example, Chinese phone makers have Android OS forks like MIUI, that don't include GApps, but is anyone here familiar with the nationally approved or popular replacements? How well (aside from spyware characteristics) do you feel they work in comparison, and what compromises do you feel you have to make in order to have a functional toolset?

    4 votes
    1. JustABanana
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I use lineageos with microg, fdroid and yalp store(through tor). It's not a fully google free android but it let's almost all apps work despite not using google play services while still...

      I use lineageos with microg, fdroid and yalp store(through tor). It's not a fully google free android but it let's almost all apps work despite not using google play services while still minimizing data google receives. You can use lineage without microg and yalp to cut google completely. I'm yet to find an app that doesn't work with microg but I don't use many that require play services. Other than that it's pretty much a normal android experience

      4 votes
  4. [2]
    harrygibus
    Link
    I do a lot of this partially by accident, but there are a few things I'd like to improve if possible. I started using duckduckgo about 5 years ago on my phone and laptop, still use google maps...

    I do a lot of this partially by accident, but there are a few things I'd like to improve if possible.
    I started using duckduckgo about 5 years ago on my phone and laptop, still use google maps quite a bit because, as the author says it's far superior. I am still addicted to youtube on my laptop and I doubt that will change. I have never really used a gmail account, I have a couple but rarely log in - still maintain a probably 25 year old yahoo mail account as my primary, I know that has become a bigger problem since the verizon transfer. But I'm using apple mail as my client so I never use the yahoo website. I looked into another paid email service (i think smartmail?), would proton be just as good?

    Phone situation is a bit weird. OnePlusOne died a few years years back and I used a simple burner for a bit - I struggled but made it work, then I remembered my old Galaxy S2 was still around and figured I could possibly get it working again, turns out it operated just fine except most apps were broken on it - considered a lineage upgrade, but I still somehow have never flashed a rom on android, plus this thing is still using 4.04 icecream sandwich - I can make calls and receive texts no problem - surprise google maps still works but I always kept GPS off, so no idea about that - the stock browser partially works - many sites will not load from a google search, a lot more do work from a duckduckgo search - plenty of sites just won't load period. I can visit youtube through the browser but it seems to limit how much bandwidth I can use. Needless to say, I don't count on most of the smart functions of my phone. I am not signed in to my google account on the phone - it constantly displays a sign-in error - I feel like in some way this is the best possible situation with google and my phone - like some kind of google purgatory, but OS wise I am living in the stone age. Having access to my email on the phone would be nice (side load another email client/app?) but other than that I'm not really suffering. I thought you all might enjoy a look into a partial luddite's life.

    2 votes
    1. insomnic
      Link Parent
      I recently switched to ProtonMail (or at least in the process) and it works well... it's getting regular updates and upgrades to functionality so some of the irritations of the app or web...

      I recently switched to ProtonMail (or at least in the process) and it works well... it's getting regular updates and upgrades to functionality so some of the irritations of the app or web interface do get addressed.

      1 vote
  5. [3]
    JustABanana
    (edited )
    Link
    Could someone tag all the posts about this series with some tag? That'd allow people to read all the articles and comments easily Edit: oh god I can't spell at all

    Could someone tag all the posts about this series with some tag? That'd allow people to read all the articles and comments easily

    Edit: oh god I can't spell at all

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      I'll add the "goodbye big five" tag to them since that's what Gizmodo is using on them. Someday I think I'd like to implement a separate ability to link topics into a "series" or "story" of some...

      I'll add the "goodbye big five" tag to them since that's what Gizmodo is using on them. Someday I think I'd like to implement a separate ability to link topics into a "series" or "story" of some sort so it doesn't need to use tags, but this should work for now.

      7 votes
      1. JustABanana
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Thanks, that's great. And by the way grammar here was horrible, it sounded like something a drunk 5 year old wrote, sorry for that. I was tired and I rewrote the comment like 5 times in an effort...

        Thanks, that's great. And by the way grammar here was horrible, it sounded like something a drunk 5 year old wrote, sorry for that. I was tired and I rewrote the comment like 5 times in an effort for it to make more sense, ended up making it into a unreadable mess

        2 votes