I’ve been weaning myself off of Google, as I’m not thrilled with their ethics lately (see: Project Dragonfly), and I prefer to avoid surveillance capitalism in general. But Google their fingers in so many pies that it’s difficult to extricate yourself from the web. And admittedly, I’ve grown reliant on some of their fremium services.
Here’s my current status:
Google Analytics - I pulled GA off my websites a couple years ago, on the principle that if I didn’t like being tracked, I shouldn’t track other people either.
Gmail - I haven’t used Gmail as my primary email in a long time, but I’ve used my Gmail account as a login for lots of different services and newsletters. So I’m going through all those accounts manually and switching them over. It’s a slog!
Google Voice - I used to use this number while traveling, but I’ve stopped. I got a cell phone plan that works internationally instead.
Google Maps - It’s an excellent service, but I switched to Apple Maps after I learned that Google was tracking people who had opted out of tracking.
Google Search - Because Google logs search histories, I switched to GoDuckGo a few years back.
Google Play - I choose to sell my books to a wide audience, and part of that is making them available on all major platforms. We have a Google account we use only for publishing on Google Play, and we’ll keep it, as it’s a requirement.
Youtube - I watch Youtube on occasion, not minding the exchange of advertisements for content, since I can stay logged out and on a VPN.
Feedburner - I set up Feedburner as a free email syndication service for Micro.Blog, but I don’t think anyone is using it. I can probably turn this one off.
Google Translate - I’m not aware of any substitutions for Google Translate, but I’ll keep an eye out. I’ve used it a time or two while traveling.
The (rather dubious) news source The Intercept is reporting that Google may be abandoning government-censored search engine development but this hasn’t been confirmed by the company. I get the sense that there are some ethical folks working at Google fighting the good fight from the inside, and I really hope they win. Will Google start making better decisions instead of skulking around like Doctor Evil inside his mountain? I hope so.
When it comes to large ethics-challenged companies like Google, I’ve been taking a harm-minimization approach, using them as little as I can get away with, without getting too twisted up over the edge cases. Usually that works, but on days like today, when I’m working through my de-Googling list, I can understand why most people throw up their hands and decide that caring about this stuff isn’t worth the trouble. Life is hard enough without needing to worry if your search engine is selling you out, or freaking out that if you sell mystery novels to the Android crowd you’ll inadvertently be funding the growth of totalitarian regimes overseas.
I wish I didn’t care about Google’s ethics, because caring about it means I have to act, and taking action is a massive pain in the ass.
Grumble… Grumble… I resent this time spent de-Googling ten years worth of website logins…