The world of GAFAM and how to treat it - part 1

The world of GAFAM and how to treat it - part 1

Part 2 arrived - read it here. I still encourage you to read this article if you haven't done it yet.

In 2024 despite of increasing awareness and demand for private-by-design applications (which we applaud), the GAFAM uses a lot of dark patterns to keep us hooked by their services.

Recently, when I used Google (through a proxy of course), I noticed results for advanced queries got worse by a lot. And that's one of the biggest tech companies. Google in the past was able to answer advanced queries without any problem, often with a next-to-exact precision. Even though today Google is still used on over 80 percent of all devices able to connect to the Internet. Why? Because Google makes switching somewhere else painful on your Android phone (if you have it, of course).

There's no seamless process e.g. switching search engines on Chrome, or as I recently started to call them frontends due to their Google/Bing/Yandex outrageous reliance. Instead you have to install yet another app (I observed this when you selected, let's say, DuckDuckGo - it installed an another browser), and this of course makes your usage experience more complicated.

Despite this isn't an article about DuckDuckGo, I'll say DDG is NOT trustworthy, and you should seek something else if you want to leave Google. If going that way, avoid Startpage too - one, it's owned by an adtech company, and two, it uses - you guessed it - Google index. So we're still in the beginning, and no viable solution was found yet.

Not to mention that Google has a plethora of data on you, collected across a dozen of services. Say search engine, Google Chrome (try Librewolf but replace DuckDuckGo with something else!), Gmail (try ProtonMail / Tutanota or if you want to, selfhost your e-mail), YouTube (try PeerTube), Google Drive (try Nextcloud) for example. And it is just the beginning!

Diversifying your digital service providers lets you to keep your data in control, and if a Google outage (even they have their outage periods despite world-class engineers!) happens, you won't be affected, because you don't already use Google in at least several cases.

Anti-social social media

Another example: Facebook. It literally instilled by our lives. I left Facebook completely due to mainly ethical reasons. My ethical views do not allow me to be on Facebook because it let a Rohingya genocide to spill out - that's enough for me.

Despite a lot of viable alternatives existing out there, we still use Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The network effect is a sufficient answer here; it was a pain in the arse for me to bring almost 30 of my contacts to Signal (because I wanted to leave Facebook completely), yet I am not still finished here despite I don't have a Facebook account anymore.

There are at least several people who decided to use SMS to message me. SMS is now technically free to use thanks to "unlimited SMS and phone calls" tarrifs - but still unsafe to use like Messenger.

And, what's normal in owning three instant messaging services (Messenger, IG Direct and WhatsApp)? That definitely goes under monopolisation of that market, and unfortunately Zuckerberg largely succeeded.

Regarding leaving e.g. Instagram (which is used especially by youth), consider trying out Pixelfed. Yes, it looks like Instagram - but it doesn't have an addictive algorithm, and if you're technical enough, you can set it up on your server. Pixelfed also allows you to import your posts from Instagram, so you won't lose them when you flip the Instagram account kill switch. Your only matter is to just convince your followers to go to Pixelfed.

For those interested in microblogging, try out Mastodon / Pleroma / Akkoma / Friendica, and a lot of more I am simply unable to remember them all. Yes, those can be hosted on your server, too! And thanks to the ActivityPub protocol, they all talk to each other - so if your instance is to host only your account, it is no problem! All comments, interactions and follows go through like on "standard" social media platforms.

And if you want to just go chatting, try out Signal (ideal for both beginners and technically advanced people), or Matrix (looks like Discord at least in case of desktop Element, but it requires some practice to get used). The latter is even used by Polish national army!

Update (2024.01.12): I've expanded this article by a bit by adding alternatives to Google services, and a link to the article describing Matrix usage by Polish army.

This article was written by

slavistapl

I am the owner and lead developer of Peekr. I also helped Nove find some security issues, and in the spare time I learn Hungarian. Facebook-free since 2023.04.30, now it is me helping others to regain digital independence.

Website

Comments

  • wnm210 avatar

    wnm210

    big W post