I have been using Google products for over 20 years now. Google’s search engine was quite an amazing tool. Then came gmail — and that too was great. And then the rest of the many dozens of services such as maps, VOIP calling, cloud storage, photos, docs, etc. Many of them were quite bad and had terrible interfaces, and they got canned. But search, mail and maps — they continued to be great.
Then gradually the company got huge. And gradually it began to change. It forgot its warning: Don’t be evil. Nietzsche warning was being realized: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster … for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
Google is an amazing corporation. It is a heavy-weight in the advertising business. For that it has to gather a whole lot of user information. It tracks every user’s activities through the myriad devices that Google supplies: Android phones, smart devices from Google such as Nest thermostats, and a whole bunch of services such as google assistant. It knows who you are and what you do, what you search for on the web, which sites you visit, who you communicate with, and a whole lot more that we cannot imagine.
Google is becoming woke. And apparently is not averse to collaborating with evil institutions (aka governments, domestic and foreign.) That said, what Google does is its own business. Google does not force anyone to be its customers or be its product. Remember that users of free services are not customers but rather they are the product.
What does google know about me? The answer is quite disturbing.
The great thing about the world of free markets (markets with free entry and free exit) is that sooner or later, there are substitutes for everything. Google was (and still is) a great search engine. But you don’t have to use google search. Other good search engines exist. So also, gmail is good but there are great alternatives.
I’ve been using gmail ever since it was launched in a beta release on April 1st in 2004. (Many people thought it was an April Fool’s joke because 1 GB of storage then was hard to believe.) For me, my vast archive of thousands of stored emails is a barrier to exit from gmail. But it is time to move on.
For the last three years or so, I have stopped using Google search and have been using duckduckgo.com as the default search engine instead.
The Chrome browser has been quite erratic of late. I am ditching that too and moving to the Firefox browser for general use.
The claim of the makers of Firefox (Mozilla corporation) is:
“Get all the speed and tools with none of the invasions of privacy. Firefox Browser collects so little data about you, we don’t even require your email address to download. That’s because unlike other browsers, we have no financial stake in following you around the web.”
That sounds better than the Google deal. For more sensitive browsing, when I want total incognito status, I use the Tor browser from the torproject.org.
But which email system to use in place of gmail? Fortunately there is an alternative: Protonmail.com.
So there you have it — duckduckgo for search, Firefox (and Tor) as the browser, and protonmail for email.
I am sure that there are some good cloud hosting services that I could replace google drive and google photos with. Anyway, I have to get out of the google ecosystem. Google has become too evil.