If you are not paying for it, you are the product.
I have some good news and some bad news for you. Here is the bad news: Many multi-billion dollar companies are collecting unprecedented amount of your personal data. Two of them are Google and Facebook. You might not know that there are trackers on most websites you visit everyday, soaking up your personal information.
Google run hidden trackers on nearly about 75% and Facebook on nearly about 20% of the websites on the Internet today. And what that means is for every website you visit everyday, Google and Facebook are probably watching you, collecting personal data and creating shadow profiles about you which consists of your private information which you didn't hand over to them. The data in the shadow profiles are then handed over to advertisers to show you targetted ads, and to Government agencies to spy on you.
Here is a video that demonstrates it live on YouTube:
I'm a privacy freak, and I have always been like this. In fact, that's the reason why I'm writing this post.
And here is some good news: Yes! You can take back your privacy! But it's a bit difficult. And I can guarantee that 99% of the people reading this won't do what I'm about to say, you're probably here for some dopamine hit. But even if only 1% ends up doing this, it would be a big win for me.
I'm going to write the entire process in steps. So, let's get started!
Step 1: Make a decision to live a Google-free life.
And probably Facebook-free too! I know it's not easy, especially for those with Android devices. And for those who use devices with custom UI from some Chinese companies like MIUI, well RIP. 😞😂 (although here is a little advice for you too: just throw and smash your device into a wall.)
Step 2: Switch to better alternatives.
I'm listing some alternatives with better privacy models.
Switch from Chrome to: Firefox, TOR, Brave. I use Firefox on my Mac, and Firefox Focus on my iPhone. TOR is also a good option, but its UI is not much user-friendly.
Some of the best alternatives to Gmail are: ProtonMail, Tutanota, Posteo, and Fastmail. I have used both ProtonMail and Fastmail. ProtonMail is free but could be a bit intimidating for non-techies, and I use it as my primary email provider. The company is based in Switzerland and I definitely recommend it. Fastmail is paid but has a better UI, and if the other three don't work out for you, be sure to give Fastmail a try as a last resort.
3. Search Engine
This was a tough ask and switching from Google Search was not easy. But I found DuckDuckGo to be pretty good with search results. And now I use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. Startpage is also a good option.
Hmm. That's not gonna be easy and it's the point where everyone starts to flip out. Google products like Drive has become such a convenience that it's almost impossible to live life without them.
What I did with it is absolutely crazy and I understand that you won't be doing it for sure. See the thing is you can either have convenience or security & privacy. You can't have both.
You can either have convenience or privacy. It's a trade-off!
So, I downloaded all my content from Google Drive and put it in an external HDD, and then deleted everything on Google Drive. I know it's crazy, and I know Google didn't really fully delete my content from their servers, but hey, it's a start!
If you want a less crazy version of it, you can have a self-hosted NextCloud server on a $5 DigitalOcean droplet, or just use NextCloud with their hosting.
5. Mobile OS
Okay, let me make this straight, I'm an iOS user and I'm pretty happy with it. I do have to take care of certain things, but it's better than Android in terms of privacy.
Use OpenStreetMaps or HereWeGo.
7. Google Docs
LibreOffice is a pretty good alternative, also Microsoft Office isn't that bad either. You can also use LibreOffice with NextCloud for using documents in Cloud.
Well, who even use Google Blogger for blogging? I prefer a self-hosted blog on Ghost as this one.
I'm now almost Google-free (sometimes have to use Youtube, without log-in and with VPN), almost Facebook-free as I quit Facebook many months ago, not on WhatsApp (a pretty good alternative to WhatsApp is Signal), but I'm on Instagram because many people asked me not to leave Instagram. But I know I can live a completely stone-age life if I want to.
And you can too if you want to take back your privacy. Remember, the beginning is always the hardest. Don't give up! It's time to take back your privacy from people who make billions by selling your data and who spy on you like a Big Brother by illegal wiretapping.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If I missed out on anything or made any mistakes, please let me know in the comments below. And if you want more content like this delivered to your inbox, sign up in the Subscription form below. 👇🏻
Until next time, Adiós!