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Why I’m Worried About Google (slate.com)
384 points by DyslexicAtheist on Oct 3, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 302 comments

For some reason this was also a breaking point for me. I've switched to Firefox and Duck Duck Go. It's a small thing, but boy do you start to feel like a second rate citizen fast. The state of extensions on Firefox is a mess. I can get the usual privacy extensions easily enough, but things like using media keys to control videos playing in the back ground. Or how in the phone app of Firefox you need to pull up the side menu to refresh instead of just pulling the page down. It's all small stuff, but it adds up.

But despite this, and the lower quality search results of DDG, I'm still going to push forward with degooglifying my stuff. But I'm in deep. Drive, keep, Gmail, photos, hell I'm even typing this on a pixel 2. It's gonna take a while.

It's been surprisingly difficult finding a good replacement for keep. If anyone has suggestions I'm open. I'll probably make the shift to protonmail to replace Gmail. Not sure what do to about drive at this time.

The issue is that Google's stuff has always been very reliable and performance (well performant enough). For example I'll often ping Google.com for a network test. Google.com is never down, it's always my hardware, or my ISP, never Google.

Im just rambling at this point, but I think somewhere in there is a point about reliability, ease of use, and security that makes Google's products so compelling. Hence why they'll be able to get away with privacy issues like this.

To replace Google Keep, you definitely want to checkout https://standardnotes.org/ - Going back to Google Keep would make me feel like a second class citizen today...

As for the Pixel it's ok, just switch to LineageOS, but you'll want F-Droid + Yalp, or F-Droid + Aptoide if you feel adventurous (awesome project but they are just getting started.

Drive... I'd recommend Nextcloud, but then you need to choose a provider since it's decentralised. If you're in Europe I'd say woelkli.com, if you're in Asia or America sorry I don't know what to recommend but I'm sure there are good options. Nextcloud will do a lot more for you if you need (CalDAV, CardDAV, Password manager, Bookmarks manager, etc).

I use (and pay for) Standard Notes. The philosophy of the project is amazing which is the main reason I support it. Currently it lacks some of the features I would need to commit 100% to it. But, it's slowly and steadily improving.

If we can get support for self-contained inline images/attachments, and inter-note linking then I'll be all-in.

Standard Notes looks interesting, but isn't the root issue that these services tend to drift over time into places we don't like? Evernote, Apple Notes, etc.

Would it be better to just use something like Emacs org mode and store the data in .git?

Check out some of the principals of Standard Notes [1]. It's built to avoid this exact problem. I've been using it for over a year after migrating from OneNote and highly recommend it.

[1] https://standardnotes.org/longevity

I want to double up on everybody else's comment here— thanks for this. It looks great.

I use Apple Notes, Keep, and email myself stuff all the time.

I don't think I'll stop that, but I can at least keep a singular source now. I might even self host...

Thank you for the recommendation for a Google Keep replacement, I've migrated over to standard notes.

Wow, what a great tool!

I spent Sunday afternoon researching alternatives for Keep after hitting my breaking point with DontBeEvilCorp a couple weeks ago.

The best I found by a mile is Notion.so. In fact, it is such a great app, it has promted me to consider migrating years of OneNote notebooks, along with trying it out as a replacement for Todoist.

Google photos I replaced with Amazon Prime Photos (from pan to fire, I know, but I'm still oddly happier).

Google Drive was the easiest - I use a combo of DropBox and Arq Backup Tool going to Backblaze B2.

Email has been hard. I have always maintained my own email domain, but had that forward to gmail for the convenience. Not sure what I'm going to do there.

Hope that helped.

I use Dropbox Paper for notes. It has the minimalism of Keep, but you can use formatting, and you're not limited to HTML exports. You can export everything (or just a few things) as Markdown or .docx files.

I'll second the recommendation for Notion.so. It's a neat piece of software developed by people who are unreasonably into making the killer note taking app.

I use it to replace Evernote, primarily, but also for building requirements docs, todo lists, or notes.

Woah, this is the killer note app. It's Onenote+Trello with /-commands and keyboard shortcuts.

Me to, personally I drop GMail for a personal mail (20 euros per years, with a bunch of mailbox + unlimited aliases altogether with a personal domain. Benefit: alias to tell anyone a different mail so I know where the spam came from and I can easy drop anyone I dislike. Lightweight webmail (Roundcube) instead of monsters like actual GMail, login with user and password visible at the same time without the absurdity of Google that demand user-enter-password-enter cycle. A STANDARD IMAP so I can properly delete my mails from my local maildir without the need of moving to trash, sync back, delete from trash and sync back again.

For search IMVHO there is no point in switching between Google search and other equivalent search engine, simply because DDG, QWant etc are still company offering something from their own server. So I try to switch to YaCy (FOSS distributed search engine, a bit a java monster but not as monstrous as many Java crap we all know. I still use few time a day Google search mostly because it work far better...

On Keep I switch to Orgzly on mobile and sync my notes or to be more precise the sole parts of them I want on mobile, via org-mode+rsync. On Android sync without cloud is a pity due to limited fs access, however Termux work wall enough...

I have no need of Drive and I use personal calendar (via CardDav/Radicale) and contacts so I'm less bound.

However I'm still on Android seeing no real alternatives, SailFish was a substantial fail, Purism phone it's not there, OpenMoko, GreenPhone, ... are all old dead projects...

Roundcube is everything but not a replacement for Gmail.

I have my Gmail account logged in on 3 PC's going back to IMAP and Thunderbird never.

Well I say something similar in the past, now have seen the GMail evolution path I change my mind, beside that I do not generally use webmails except when I'm with a machine without my environment, my main MUA is notmuch-emacs.

I also agree about TB, classic MUA seems to be remained in the 90's however at leas for us not-basic-users notmuch-emacs, mutt&forks, pine&forks, mu4e etc are valuable options, long to setup-up, mostly because anyone have a personal recipe and no one offer a ready-to-use solution, but far more powerful than any webmails.

However mailpie can be consider a good GMail-inspired webmails and IMVHO for most of mail users Roundcube even if is really basic it's enough, clear, simple and effective. Contacs are a bit limited compared to Google's one but the rest work well.

While I agree that roundcube is really basic when compared with Gmail, I'd say that if you follow the convention that Gmail is nothing more than a webmail client (i.e.: a place you access through a browser to receive, read and send emails) then roundcube is exactly that. No bells or whistles though.

Gmail isn't just a webmail client - filtering out spam is a major part of any mail service; a mail server that doesn't reliably throw out the appropriate 80% of my incoming email messages simply is not usable.

I could run a mail server myself, but I don't believe that I can achieve comparable levels of spam filtering without excessive effort, so I would need someone else to provide this service.

That was also the breaking point for me. I've switched back to firefox, I bought a new iPhone XS (moving off the pixel), I'm in the process of getting my own email server up (though I may just switch to proton mail we'll see), and I'm waiting on a SIM to port my number off of Google Voice.

Maybe its all futile, but I'm committed to degoogling my life at least 50%. They've shown their hand and I don't like what I see.

> That was also the breaking point for me. I've switched back to firefox, I bought a new iPhone XS (moving off the pixel), I'm in the process of getting my own email server up (though I may just switch to proton mail we'll see)

Fastmail's another option. Their 2FA authentication options are about as robust as Google's.

If you want Chrome-like features without Chrome then I would recommend the Brave browser. It's built on top of Chromium which is what Chrome is built on top of and it has built-in privacy protection by blocking all tracking and advertising code. Version 1 of the browser will be introducing Chrome extensions to the browser so the experience will be very similar.

Vivaldi is another candidate equally as good as Chrome.

I have been trying (not entirely successfully) to move away from Google for a while now.

Gmail replaced by Fastmail. I used to think Fastmail's interface to be clunky - but no longer. It was never an issue, because you can very easily use any mail client, each with their own 'app password'.

Drawbacks: GMail's filtering it top notch, for both spam and their pre-defined categories (updates, social, etc). I never realized how many rules it saved me until I made the switch.

Browser changed to Firefox for the most part. Still not as battery efficient as I would like, and not as performant as Chrome in some sites (ironically, many of these belong to Google).

Google Cloud is nice, but I only use that at work.

Google maps is... difficult to replace. If I am in an Apple device, I can use that, but it's an inferior replacement.

The Google search engine is still second to none. I have made the switch to DuckDuckGo, but I find myself using !g VERY often.

Some things are just nice to have. The damn Google Cloud Print service works more reliably than trying to print from OSX over wifi. I have no idea why.

My 'breaking point' was not privacy or security. It's just that Google pulls the plug on projects surprisingly often. So I figured a gradual transition would be better. It's a very slow transition indeed...

Ah! Google Cloud Print. I was looking forward to actually uninstalling Chrome on my main computer, but I'd forgotten how critical that is. Like you, I just can't get My MacBook to work with my network printer.

Did you consider Safari? It’s super battery efficient.

> It's been surprisingly difficult finding a good replacement for keep. If anyone has suggestions I'm open.

I've been on the hunt for a good Keep replacement myself, but not exactly a replacement for the "Simple" Keep interface. In my perfect world I wanted something markdown based for taking notes, and syncable between mobile and web. Most (but not all) of my personal checkmarks has been checked with Joplin[1] which was not yet mentioned in this thread; at a glance:

- Synced via cloud accounts (Either it's Dropbox, OneNote, or even your own Nextcloud via WebDAV, if you wish to be public cloud free!)

- Notes are Markdown based

- Notes import done also via .md files, folder of .mds (including nesting), or even Evernote's ENEX format.

- Dedicated applications for PC/OSx/Linux and even Android & iOS native apps. No web interface available since it's used to sync to an external source. But with that much access with said applications, it's a tradeoff I can take.

(I just found out about this app this morning, so please excuse my enthusiasm :)

[1] https://joplin.cozic.net/

there is a website for this:


^wow how quickly people forgot about NSA spying, snowden etc.

> but boy do you start to feel like a second rate citizen fast.

Isn't this mostly because you don't know yet how the same features work in FF and DDG?

For me it's a long list of missing features (using Mac OS).

* No Chromecast support

* Missing pinch to zoom support (smooth as butter in Chrome). Possible via Add-on "Multi-touch zoom" [1] in Fx but it's very sluggish.

* Youtube is much slower, also some features don't work there, like being able to scroll down when having a fullscreen video open. Can be fixed by installing "Classic Youtube" [2]

* Fullscreen is broken for me, I was not able to hide the address bar and tab bar. I had to install "Fullscreen Plus"

* Some extensions don't work as good, like Dark Reader [3]

* No good alternatives for some Chrome extensions, like "The Great Suspender" [4] or "Vanilla Cookie Manager" (Cookie AutoDelete for Firefox)

* Pdfium performs much better than Firefox' solution. Unfortunately Mozilla abandoned Project Mortar [5].

I could go on with the list. Don't get me wrong, I will still stick to Firefox even though Google Chrome is the superior product performance- and feature-wise.

[1] https://github.com/haxiomic

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/youtube-class...

[3] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dark-reader/eimadp...

[4] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspende...

[5] https://wiki.mozilla.org/Mortar_Project

Take for instance the LastPass plugin: You can't just copy the current site's user name/password* with just 4 mouse clicks like you can with Chrome's extension, you need to edit the site entry (4 clicks), click show password, select the password, Ctrl+C. If you need to do this for both your user name and password, it gets a lot worse than in Chrome (which remembers your position).

And don't get me started on the really bad font rendering. Firefox is still behind Edge and Chrome, hell, even IE (at least on Windows).

*: something you need to do more often in Firefox because the extension's autofill feature is even finicky than in the Chrome extension.


So, pick your battles. SimpleNote is the solution to Keep. FireFox addon's are getting better now Chrome and Firefox agreed a common format so wait on that one. Protonmail is great, but simple so don't expect the bell's and whistles you're used to.

Photo's is still the best product around so personally I'd stick with it, same for Drive (although Dropbox does work and is solid).

Started the same project (-> FF + DDG), but i have to admit I'm super happy with it. Gmail is going to be hard though.

I've had an email account with Namecheap (privateemail.com) that costs like $8/year for the past many years. It's never been my first choice when communicating with friends or signing up for stuff, but lately I find myself stopping and saying "but that's the only email I actually pay for...". My Google accounts are slowly just becoming unimportant spam boxes.

My current hangup is migrating a bunch of accounts that use my GMail for 2FA over to another email address. I really just need to enumerate only the essential ones and divest from/delete the rest.

I had the good fortune of realizing that I was less tied to Google than I thought.

> For example I'll often ping Google.com for a network test. Google.com is never down, it's always my hardware, or my ISP, never Google.

I've stopped doing this recently when, during a string of nearly-statewide Frontier outages, Google services still worked while everything else was inaccessible (actually happened multiple times over the course of a week). It felt a little bizarre watching YouTube videos fine but being unable to connect to IRC. I've started pinging Cloudflare instead.

What do you do about your phone though?

Too bad Canonical dropped Ubuntu Touch. There are other debian-based contenders but I think Tizen is currently the only practical choice. Unfortunately Tizen's code has a terrible reputation.

So... as I type this to you Google is probably watching me. Yay.

Purism is working on a phone that plans to support Ubuntu Touch: https://puri.sm/posts/ubports-ubuntu-touch-on-librem5-collab...

For Drive I've found Jumpshare to be awesome, for email I can't see my protonmail replacing gmail, I feel that there should be a better alternative.

One of the hard parts will be to leave behind the awesome google photo

Replacing keep is annoying because there's no export and Google takeout dumps HTML files for each note, and not very good ones. That may have improved by now, but it was an issue for me about 6 months ago.

I feel you about Keep, but it looks like Microsoft's Sticky Notes will soon get an update with syncing and a mobile phone client - https://winbuzzer.com/2018/09/03/microsofts-sticky-notes-3-u... so that's an option.

Nextcloud made it pretty easy to get away from Google Drive and Keep. I really like using QOwnNotes to manage my markdown files which are synced to nextcloud.

I'm in fairly deep too, ~3 years of photos in their service. As convenient it is to do search and essentially having a "free" backup, I really need to move off. I'm not worried about moving mail since it's more of an iterative process, but moving photos is going to be a pita.

What's wrong with firefox extensions? I haven't noticed anything untoward in my time using it.

Firefox extensions _used_ to offer much more access and control of the browser, but they've since switched to a Chrome-like model that isn't near feature parity with Chrome. It was a huge step back.

I'm pretty sure that Firefox's model is a superset of Chrome's

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Add-ons/Web... seems to suggest feature parity, at the very least

I use Firefox Notes instead of Keep - https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments/notes

How do all of these note taking apps compare with Evernote?

It’s the closing paragraph that’s the important bit:

In the end, this is why I’m moving away from the Google ecosystem. If nothing else works, then at least I can vote with my feet—or my fingertips.

Google have set their path, so it will take effort for them to deviate from it. The best way to show them that the effort is worthwhile is to affect their bottom line by reducing your use of their services. And maybe you’ll find that the competitors are still there and pretty good.

Firefox is fine and DuckDuckGo is good enough by now.

Firefox has the added bonus that it doesn't implement a two tier cookie system. Of which one tier cannot be deleted.

This, in combination with the new and improved "sign-in-convenience" convinced me that Google is exactly as dirty as any other tech company and should be avoided like the plague, wherever possible.

I keep hearing this, but I'm constantly disappointed by the results I get on DDG. Eg, The first page of DDG shows (old) forum posts while Google shows a couple project sites on GitHub and some relevant stack overflow answers.

I'm sure some is personalization, but I've also compared results in incognito and Google is still better. I really want to like it, but I'm not going to sabotage my ability to efficiently find things.

To be honest: It works for me > 98% of the time.

Usually if the search is highly generic then Google definitely fares better and there's always the !g bang if DDG is not good enough for a specific search.

Thinking out loud here, trying to articulate a notion (complaint).

My two major search use cases are 'technical' (work related, programming, one of my projects) and 'location-based'.

(As a not quite sober news junkie, I'm trying reduce my 'events' search activity.)

Both DDG and Google work fine for technical stuff. Because I already know where to look, how to ask. YouTube is surprisingly (delightfully) great for my DIY projects (eg how to tile my bathroom).

Location based searches still drives me nuts. Both Apple Maps and Google Maps routinely give me ridiculous results. For the love of digital, why aren't closer results ranked higher?

So I end up using Yelp to find local stuff. While I like its 'update search results' as a navigate, their map UI/UX widget is terrible.

I'd probably leave my laptop home if I felt competent using mobile for location-based searches. Now, I'm lugging it every where, and regret it when I don't.

My experience has been the opposite of yours; DDG gets me better, and in particular more up-to-date search results recently.

This is my experience too.

But I hardly ever used Chrome, and wasn't signed in when using Google most of the time. I suspect they don't have a complete profile to improve their results.

Still I would take somewhat worse search results over handing out all of my web usage any day :)

DDG search results are even worse in other languages then English. I have been trying for couple of years to use DDG and finally have given up. Pity.

Firefox is fine? It’s the best browsing experience thanks to Tree Style Tabs unless you are a lambda user and you only have 3 tabs open at all time.

And even lambda users pile up tabs when they browse

Containers are a killer app for me. Having a separate workspace for each project I am working on, or work role, vs personal browsing reduces both clutter and distraction dramatically. I still use Chrome for some things (select boxes seem to not be handled well in firefox, or sites don't implement them properly which can be annoying, and FF still feels a little slow at times compared to Chrome), but I use Firefox as much as possible.

What's a lambda user? Sounds like I might be one. I only keep a few tabs open at a time.

In terms of browsers that would be someone who only go on HN, reddit, facebook, gmail and linkedin. In other words HRFGL.

how do you get lambda out of hrfgl?

lambda user = average user. I don't know if the author of that message is french, but in french we use that expression quite a lot. It's meant to be used as a sort of "plug in any user" sort of variable, as in "for the user lambda" or "for the user x" sort of thing.

gotcha. That's helpful.

Thank you very much! I didn't even know such a thing existed.

I'll download the extension tonight and give it a shot.

Gecko still feels weird, I don’t think it’ll ever catch up to WebKit or Blink.

Worth noting that Opera is still an option, and built on Blink...

Keep in mind that Opera was bought by a consortium of Chinese companies.

> Firefox is fine and DuckDuckGo is good enough by now.

I finally made the jump to Brave and DuckDuckGo, but replacing Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Voice is going to be hard. Gmail will be the hardest since it's attached to so many of my online accounts.

To avoid this problem in the future, get your own domain. If you want to use GMail you can, you just have to create a GSuite account then edit your DNS to point your mail to Google's servers. If later, you want to move off Google, you edit your DNS MX record to point to a different host.

If you're thinking you can just use a custom domain as a login email everywhere, think again cause that comes with its own risks. A guy did this and ended up losing control of his accounts since a DNS is probably less stringent on security as well, the Googs itself. TLDR: Someone hacked him by calling the DNS for his domain name and taking over his email.


I've been thinking about switching from Gmail myself. I think they have a feature where you can forward all of your email from your Gmail account to your new email address, so you can use that during the transition. Then think of any online accounts that you really need to keep (there aren't many), and change your sign-in email for those.

Perhaps I'll do that this weekend; better now than never.

These are the easy changes. It's much harder to move away from their ecosystem if you're using gmail as your primary or only e-mail provider.

This is why it’s best to have one layer of indirection: in this case a personal domain that lets you move between providers. Same thing as running your site from mygreatcompany.com instead of geocities.com/mygreatcompany.

Same here. Bought a personal domain about 10 years ago as piece of mind. Does the job and my registrar handles e-mail forwarding including catchall which is handy for throwaway addresses

That's what I'm considering now, but I'm concerned that I'll forget to update my credit card information or make some other minor mistake with the registrar and lose my domain.

I get hassled via email for months leading up to a renewal, and even if something goes wrong there's a grace period. It's really not a big deal.

Were I smart, I'd set up a calendar reminder each year for my most important domains.

Your experience sounds like the start of stories I keep seeing on HN about people and companies losing their domains. I just saw this one today. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18130832

Gmail is really the only thing keeping me in the Google tent. Switching my address after over a decade of use is nigh-impossible. I also use Chrome for development because the debug tools are superior, but everything else Google is an easy switch for me.

No it's not. You get a new email, set all incoming mail from the old one to forward to the new one, tell the people you are in contact with about the new email, and then just change the email on the services you use when you use it. Don't go around to all the services at once. Just the next time you open up GitHub, change it, next time you open up your online bank, change it, and so on. And after a couple of years, shut down the old one. It's not hard at all.

Yea this is what I did. Little by little. If you make a plan, and are dilligent you’ll be totally off @gmail.com in under a year. Make sure you switch to an email address on a domain you control, not @some_other_cloud_service.com that you’ll want to switch off of later.

Indeed, its not hard. I went through it this summer. However, I switched from a personal domain to a fastmail domain. Why? My domain registrar fucked me over.

At that point, I had used my personal domain for close to 10 years when suddenly it stopped working. I contacted them and they said that it was put on hold because I hadn't paid the yearly expense. It would cost 16 times the normal cost to get it back, or I could wait a couple of months until it was released and see if I was able to buy it again at the normal rate before it was taking by someone else. I asked what they meant by expense? I usually get a reminder from them on email a month before due date, every year for the last 10 years, but my latest expense reminder from them was dated a year back. They explained that they have had trouble sending out reminders for this particular TLD for a while now. I asked why they hadn't contacted their users about these problems, to which they replied that it's my own responsibility to get the expense paid in due time, and that the reminders are just a friendly reminder, nothing more, nothing to be relied on, and I have to pay 16 times normal cost or it will get released in a couple of months.

I decided that I was not going to pay that, and that I wouldn't be using them as a domain registrar again. Luckily I wasn't that happy with the domain anyways and have never been. I have been fiddling with ideas for a new domain name for years, but have yet to find one, so it wasn't that big of a loss. But I sure as hell think it's shitty service from my domain registrar.

What domain registrar was that?

It's a bit weird to say it's not hard at all after describing a multi-year effort.

But see, it's not a multi-year effort. It's at most a couple of hours spread over a couple of years with 99.9% of the effort put in today and the next couple of days.

This is how I did it twice over the years.

>Switching my address after over a decade of use is nigh-impossible.

This is why you should have your own domain. You can switch providers trivially.

Doesn't work in all cases.

Here's my story: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18130832

I wouldn't say it "doesn't work". I would say "Be extremely careful in renewing your domain on time". I do think what your registrar did is lousy, but when it came to domains, lousy is what I expect. There are plenty of stories out there like yours

Easy to say now. But when gmail first came out and I snagged an address, the last thing on my mind was "this company could become evil in 15 years, I should set up my own domain and route to it from this new email service." I'm currently looking into making the switch, but it's going to be painful. Finding a good domain these days for personal email is also challenging.

>But when gmail first came out and I snagged an address, the last thing on my mind was "this company could become evil in 15 years, I should set up my own domain and route to it from this new email service."

It was already in my mind when Gmail came out. Some months prior to their launch, I got my own domain. I was already sick of free online providers - be it email, photos, etc. I'd had to move multiple times due to their either disappearing or suddenly asking for money. So even though I always liked Google, and still do, I never allowed myself to believe that things won't change.

Regardless, the past is the past. The key point is not to make the same mistake going forward.

Using Firefox and DDG daily for personal use. I'm looking to switch off of inbox/gmail, google calendar, etc. but haven't settled on an alternative yet. I've made heavy use of the snoozed notifications in inbox. Any recommendations?

I recently switched to FastMail.com from google. They have email, calendar and contacts syncing and works really well.

https://www.zoho.com/ has a lot to offer. I use nextcloud for calendar and contacts.

I've been using FastMail for several years now. The reason I switched was specifically to move away from Google's services and I'm glad I've made the switch. I have recommended FastMail to people over these years and whoever has switched has stayed with them and is pretty glad with them from what I hear.

I recently switched to Firefox and DDG, and am pleasantly surprised and seriously impressed. Obviously, DDG is not as powerful as Google. But it has been more than good enough for me so far.

DuckDuckGo is mostly a skin on Bing search results. By using it, you're saying you trust Microsoft more than Google. If that's your intent, cool, but you're not really getting away from the big tech companies by doing this.

Hardly. DuckDuckGo claims not to share my information or searches with Microsoft. I trust DuckDuckGo (not Microsoft) to keep their word.

The fact that DDG sources information about the internet from Microsoft is unimportant. I'm concerned about my personal information, not large scale manipulation of search results.

In that case you could use http://www.startpage.com - it's a wrapper around Google, and your information isn't shared with them.

I would use this if it weren't so darn slow.

I've tried searx instances as well, but couldn't find one that functioned consistent to my liking.

Recently I deactivated Javascript on Startpage (with uBO) and surprisingly it suddenly loads fast.

Believe it or not they are injecting all kinds of ad related JS.

I am even questioning their sincerity, since the page is badly optimized for usage.

Meh, if DDG takes off MS will likely either cut them off or charge, leading to DDG needing to run their own search. If they can do that is unproven, and if running a web-wide search engine with DDG's business model is profitable is unproven too. I agree it's irrelevant to users medium-term, but if you're happy with DDG you kind of have to hope they don't become too successful.

I'm pretty sure DDG is already paying them. Maybe they'll raise their rates, but DDG has other sources and has their own crawler, too, so I think they will do just fine.

DDG claim otherwise https://duck.co/help/results/sources

DuckDuckGo gets its results from over four hundred sources. These include hundreds of vertical sources delivering niche Instant Answers, DuckDuckBot (our crawler) and crowd-sourced sites (like Wikipedia, stored in our answer indexes). We also of course have more traditional links in the search results, which we also source from a variety of partners, including Oath (formerly Yahoo) and Bing.

That links "more than 400 sources" to https://duck.co/ia which in turn links to https://docs.duckduckhack.com/#improve-a-live-instant-answer saying "DuckDuckHack is in Maintenance Mode". But https://docs.duckduckhack.com/welcome/how-ias-work.html suggests that these sources are for things displayed at the top, which I see super rarely.

Yahoo gets their search results from bing, so that's the same thing. So this supports my claim.

DDG also uses Yandex and Baidu search results in relevant regions:


> By using it, you're saying you trust Microsoft more than Google

I do. They make inferior software imo, but seem a lot less suspicious.

Depends upon the software - you can pry Excel from my cold dead hands.

G Suite has definitely come a long way, but the Office suite of apps are absolutely the gold standard.

I thought they just partner with Bing for ad results - not that their search was a skin of Bing. Wikipedia supports the ad partnership but also doesn't say anything about Bing being responsible for their search results. And on the few tests I've just done searching both, I see similar but not exact results. Do you have a source for this claim?

Duck Duck Go uses search result API's from various venders, including Bing- that is mentioned in the history section of the Wikipedia article. (Originally they used Yahoo's search API, and Yahoo of course changed to using results from Bing). They also have their own web crawler.

See my reply to NeedMoreTea.

Does using DDG give Microsoft your personally-identifiable data?

To be clear, it does not.

Where is the open source internet search platform?

There’s an open source P2P-based distributed search engine called YaCy.

And then google gently nudges all those infidels with endless re-captcha, which now sprinkles almost every page with some html form…

(firefox and DDG user here)

I'm also a Firefox and DDG user and I agree that the re-captcha issue is big. Between a pi-hole, uMatrix, and cookie-autodelete I'm able to seriously limit Google's impact on my daily browsing, but there is no way around the re-captcha. Without the google cookie following me around its even more apparent since I'm automatically in a higher risk tier for the re-captcha. I often spend several minutes on it clicking one image after another - its so bad I've started considering doing a screen recording to show others how long it takes. Google cannot be avoided and with AMP its just getting worse.

Banned CAPTCHAs (including ReCAPTCHA) at my previous employer[1]: they’re impossible to make accessible, and are a prime case of businesses externalising costs onto their users.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/technology/using-captchas

The problem with this (and also Facebook) is that they control so much data, that they can monetize your information even if you don't use their services. Not as much as if you do. But still enough. You literally can't not make money for them without quitting the internet completely. And quitting using credit/debit cards. That's the dark part of all this. You can think you're walking away, but you're still living in the Truman Show.

I'm almost there. There are no Google apps on the phone any more.

The last push to stop using Chrome even occasionally has been the recent user-hostile changes, and the recent style redesign. It must be my middle aged eyes, but ever since that I had a significant misclick rate, despite or perhaps because of, all the extra whitespace. Of course now any contrast at all is against Google style guidelines.

I wish there were a neat way to avoid the online Google features every other site links to - Captchas, fonts, Google scripts and such. Possibly just for bloody-minded completeness, but I'd prefer to give them no data at all.

> But it brings users within an accidental click of sharing their bookmarks and browsing history with Google.

It's two clicks, you need to be really explicit about it. The first click opens a huge "You're about to turn on sync" dialog, where you have to click "Yes, I'm in" again.

I don't disagree with the general sentiment, but the article isn't factually correct. It's also by the same person who misunderstood the recent chrome changes and wrote a long blog post triggered by them misunderstanding what was going on (https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/gyny83/google-chr...).

Could you tell me what claims in my post were incorrect? So far nobody at Google has disputed them, just pointed out that they don’t activate sync (which my blog post already stipulates.)

"Google developers claim this will not actually start synchronizing your data to Google — yet"

It sounds like you got up in arms because you thought that chrome now auto-syncs when you sign in to gmail, and wrote the blog post draft. Then you learned that this isn't the case but you kept your arms up anyway, added that unsubstantiated "- yet" and hit "publish" anyway, despite nothing really having changed.

(Disclaimer 1: I used to work for google, so I'm likely biased to give them more benefit of doubt. Disclaimer 2: This is a shared HN account (the password isn't exactly hard to guess), so not all of its comments or posts are written by me.)

If you look up my Twitter account, you’ll see that I had a long discussion with multiple Chrome engineers days prior to writing the post, and there they explained the sync distinction to me. The post clearly explains the situation (mandatory login, but not sync) and articulates several reasons why I think it’s still an issue even if Google doesn’t auto-synchronize — a guarantee I don’t feel confident relying on in the future. In those various Twitter threads I also identified several problems with the Chrome privacy policy, which Google had to quickly update on a Sunday as a result.


I have already begun to vote (against Google) with my feet/fingertips. I realize that even if I use non-Google products/services - much like the Kevin Bacon game - I'm only so many degrees away. But still, I feel i have at least a little more agency over my data. If I do this (move away from google), and then another person does this, and then another...eventually if many more do this, there could be a dent; which would hopefully more positively influence google (AND others like google); in essence manually move Adam smith's supposed invisible hand.

I've switched to Safari and DuckDuckGo last week. I can still search on google with the DuckDuckGo shortcut !g when the duck doesn't quack. I tried Firefox but it became too slow. Safari is actually pretty good, for me the main problem is that it reduced my productivity for web development (I need to get used to the safari devtools) and the lack of some browser extensions (redux devtools etc). For now, I keep switching back to chrome for web development.

I use Safari and treat Chrome as just another development tool. We should be using other browsers during development anyway so we don't end up in another IE situation.

DDG's bang features are great. You might be interested in the !sp bang - which takes you to StartPage (a proxy for Google). This way you can still get the Google results without using google when DDG isn't cutting it.

I heard they still ping Google because they also have google ads on their site.

Great tip, thanks!

Did you try FF recently? It feels as fast as Chrome for me these days! devtools are good and transition was surprisingly frictionless. Bonus: I’m trying Linux and it works/syncs my stuff across Mac/iOS/Ubuntu.

I really struggle with FF's scroll acceleration. I suppose it is just years of using Chrome but the scroll behavior and inertia when I scroll using the trackpad just feels painfully "off". I realize this is something that is kind of petty to complain about all things considered, but the issue is just always there. Perhaps with enough time I would learn to get used to it.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to modify a half dozen settings in FF that were posted on reddit to emulate Chrome's scrolling behavior but none felt exactly right.

Recently I had used the Edge browser on a friend's machine and I felt like the scroll behavior was really fast and responsive as well.

I am on mac, I used FF when they announced their performance improvement last year [1], and it felt fast at the beginning but then it started to get slower. I can't explain why as it was a while ago and I did not look much into it

[1] https://hacks.mozilla.org/2017/11/entering-the-quantum-era-h...

Same here. The way I noticed the slowness was that I am used to opening up a new tab and immediately typing in my url or search. Whatever speed comes naturally to me, Chrome can handle it. Firefox would lag in ways that resulted in half of what I typed being cut off and other odd behavior. I am positive that Firefox is (or was, when I tried it last year) slower than Chrome in this regard, which was incredibly frustrating and caused me to switch back to Chrome within a week.

There are a couple fixes in 63 beta specifically about OS X performance. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/63.0beta/releasenotes/

> On macOS, WebGL power preferences allow non-performance-critical applications and applets to request the low-power GPU instead of the high-power GPU in multi-GPU systems - https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1349799

> Faster tab switching in the majority of cases for our macOS users - https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1481519

> Improved the reactivity of Firefox on macOS - https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1265824

I've been using a Blackberry Z10. I relay my Gmail to a remote Unix pay-for account, and only receive from there; I only send mail from a VM on my VPN'd home computer.

This phone does phone calls, SMS, and I use the built-in browser on private mode. There's NOTHING Google on this phone, and I sign into nothing.

I do feel like I'm not part of the game any more, but I'm not part of the game any more!

With all of these emerging privacy concerns, it reinforces my choice to move away from the Android and Google ecosystem insofar as I can.

It reinforces my choice to embrace the Apple ecosystem. While their products aren't perfect, they do take your privacy seriously and you do pay for it. But to me, that seems like a fair trade. Additionally, they have second to none customer support, so it's going to take a company providing the same level of support (3-5 business day repairs on laptops) for me to move away from Apple.

Unfortunately security seems to be a problem only solvable with first world salaries it seems.

I really doubt most people earning 500 euros or less would think on the benefit of Apple's privacy when looking at their price ranges, many times just mapped directly from dollars into local currencies.

I will not buy a computer I do not have full root access to. Let me know when Apple gives users root on iOS devices.

Exactly. With Apple we get (maybe, who really knows? For how long until they decide to use the data they have?) more privacy but we also get a dictator who asserts control over the devices we buy.

It’s about time that we learn that there’s no free lunch. We either pay with our privacy, our attention, or with money. I prefer to pay with money.

I've been switching to Apple as well from Google/Microsoft, and the only challenging part so far is grabbing a professional icloud username. I'm very, very late to the icloud e-mail party, so literally every e-mail that doesn't have a chain of five numbers on the end is taken.

I wish they'd add a few more domain options. Oh well, services are wonderful otherwise.

Hoping they refresh the Macbook Air this October so I can move away from Windows 10 automatically installing candy crush every time I do a clean install. Windows is moving right back to the bloat of yesteryear, but this time it's Microsoft bundling the garbage.

Why don't you use your own email with iCloud account? Using your own email address to login into Gmail or iCloud will let you dump these services easier if you decide to.

I could and thought about that. If Apple focuses less on privacy on the future, I could go the fastmail route. Apple, if I recall correctly, does let you change your icloud ID, thus moving away shouldn't be hard.

For now, I'd rather have most services with one provider I trust as that really is convenient for me. That was Google before (mistakenly?), but no longer.

True. Unfortunately, the rest of the world that cannot afford products from the apple ecosystem will continue to suffer and they are probably highest at risk of being exploited in ways they can't fathom.

Not sure if/how there's a way for privacy ethics to win over economics/convenience.

This has been my stance as well. I'm all in on the Apple ecosystem over anything google and have started moving all of my activity off of google. (Firefox, Proton Mail, iOS, Pi-Hole) Google is a top contender of mine for most evil tech company, right behind Facebook.

Every post about google, facebook or privacy, there is a PR comment about Apple.

Apple doesn't care about privacy any more than google believed in "do no evil". They collect data on you just like google does. They buy data from other vendors like google does. They sell data on you.

The idea that a company who gives data to the chinese government cares about privacy is laughable.


You shouldn't confine yourself to an "ecosystem" controlled by one company. Be that google or apple.

Literally nothing you said is true. Apple doesn't sell your data and they collect dramatically less data which has been proven numerous times. This is basically a cheap attempt at trolling.

You can turn off icloud in china and your phone is secure (presumably). And apps such as wechat have less abilities to read data on an iphone.

Apple had a choice: icloud in china or leave china. Would chinese citizens be better served if android was the only option?

As for data, apple collects less of it. You can verify that with a data request: https://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-data-collection-stored-r...

And much of their data for apps like maps is anonymized.

On what basis can you reasonably equate their data efforts to google's? Everyone needs data, but apple does legitimately seem to take privacy more seriously.

surely confining yourself to just one would limit the reselling of your data though? i.e just 1 company, instead of multiple will be peddling your privacy to other buyers

The default on is a favorite ad-tech strategy; its how a lot of websites gather customer data, since most users couldn't care less that they're always signed in, always sending browsing/tracking data to other parties.

There is little regulation in online advertising; GDPR helped a lot but most ad revenues are still generated in the US. I have a feeling that some regulation would go a long way in improving the online browsing experience and prevent incidents like this, which can get tiring: every time a trusted internet company makes a privacy "error", everyone is outraged, we shame the company to getting better yadda yadda.

I wonder if, in a couple of generations from now, we’ll be browsing private messages, emails, browsing history, etc—all the “private” details that Google et al, have amassed—much in the same way the Stasi files are available now.

That's... Unsettling.

As a non-native speaker, I would have expected the title to be "Why Google Worries Me".

"Worried About" sounds like it's Google who's being negatively affected by this, but that doesn't seem to be the main point of the story.

Is this a common pattern?

Your wording is certainly better than the ambiguous article title. I would write it your way too.

"I'm worried about X" usually means that I'm concerned for X's welfare, but not always. It takes some context to disambiguate the phrase.

A couple of examples:

"I'm worried about that stray kitten."

"I'm worried about the lion perched in that tree."

They are both felines, but clearly in one case I'm concerned about the cat's safety, in the other case what the cat might do to me.

yes, it's a common pattern in colloquial american english. "worried about" can mean either "concerned by" (as the article uses it) or "concerned about" (as you interpreted it).

Yours is the more succinct way of saying it. Remember that all these modern blogs usually aren't written by (or edited by for that matter) professionals of any kind, so the grammar/sentence structure will suffer at the expense of pumping out articles fast and getting clicks.

Commonish I guess, it's not something I havent seen before. I dont know how often I see the pattern but it is ambiguous as both interpretations of meaning are valid

Both are fine. Try reading it this way:

[Why] [I'm worried] [about Google].

Today Google popped up a little survey in the corner of my account page, with questions like "I trust Google to keep my data private", "It's easy to find out what data Google has on me", that sort.

Answers were one-click response buttons: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree (top to bottom, in that order).

The first time I clicked "Strongly Disagree", a few questions in, the next question had the order of the answers reversed so that Strongly Agree was on bottom. Submitted an opposite sentiment before realizing what happened.

Strikes me as manipulative, like the survey really isn't so much for discovering my opinion as it is for collecting favorable ones. I wonder who will get the results, and to what end?

That's common in surveys. It's to see if you are paying attention.

I've noticed that with single-question responses such as Amazon's "why are you returning this" drop-down, and it makes total sense there. A consistently random arrangement means that users picking just the top answer will have no more influence on the overall report than random noise. Makes less sense when available answers are the same for each question, such that the user might have mentally cached them to avoid rereading.

However, n=1. The timing might have been coincidental.

Firefox doesn't highlight find-in-page search results on the scroll bar. Chrome does.

Am I the only person who relies on that feature daily for their work?

Doesn't Firefox use the default OS scrollbar? I believe Chrome has their own custom scrollbar, and it allows developers to replace it. For instance, in Trello on Firefox, I see my big native (read: usable) scrollbar on the bottom and in card lists, while in Chrome they're just a thin little line.

Agreed. I noticed this too, would be great if the FF devs could implement that very useful feature. It gives an instant overview of the search hit distribution on the page.

For me, highlighting all occurrences and ctrl/cmd+g (next) is enough. Jetbrains idea does the highlight in scrollbar but I don't find it useful.

If a method is used several times at the top of the page, and you want to find out if it's used elsewhere, without the highlights, you don't know that. You have to hit Next until you make sure it's nowhere else. With the highlights, you immediately see that the block you're looking at is it, and you can move on to a different file.

It also doesn't highlight all search results on the page, only the currently selected one. FF on page search is my biggest complaint.

What is the daily use case? Sounds useful, but daily?

Browsing a large code repository. The scrollbar highlights allow me to "eyeball" the page and go to the general locations quickly rather than hitting Next a thousand times (which feels primitive as hell anyway), especially when a block of code has the same keyword used many times and I need to move on to the next block.

I tried Firefox for a while but I rely on that feature around once or twice a day and I preferred using Chrome for those browsing sessions. So I dumped Firefox and switched back.

Ah, I think I just avoid using a browser to browse a code repository. Swiper/helm in emacs are far superior for searching a repository. Unless I am looking at more than what I can checkout locally... which, I typically don't need to do.


Firefox is looking more like a very good insurance policy going forward privacy-wise. I would like to see more open source browsers though. It feels like we are getting nearer and nearer to browser mono cultures with all the chromium clones. Maybe Ms can release edge as an opensource app with it being far behind in adoption.

I believe the Edge team is actively working on open sourcing the whole browser. They have already open-sourced the JS engine behind it [0], and they worked on some integrations with other things (IIRC there was an experiment with node using the chakra engine instead of V8).

I'm with you though, I really hope this opens back up into an all out competition between 3 or more big players. And I think firefox is in a great position to take up the "top" spot in terms of security, performance, and resource usage. They have been "paying their dues" for a while now working on that stuff, and it's starting to pay off. And if they gambled right, they might just have an architecture that is overall better than Chrome's, who will be stuck with the cruft they've slowly built up over the years.

[0] https://github.com/Microsoft/ChakraCore

I’m seeing more webpages entirely break on Firefox recently. I tend to reach for Vivaldi when I need to try a different browser, as it’s Chromium without all the tracking.

Yes, on newer versions, this can happen when Tracking Protection is enabled. This feature causes things like CAPTCHA and other third-party scripts to break. When this occurs, look for a shield icon in the URL bar to the left of the green TLS padlock. Click it and disable Tracking Protection. This has fixed every site issue I've seen so far.

There's also Brave browser by Brendan Eich. It's still very young and have issues, but it's getting better over time.

I've enjoyed using the Brave browser so far (less than a week).

I'm excited to try out the BAT payments feature! For those out of the loop, like I was a week ago, it's a way to pay what you want per month, divided proportionally by the time spent per site between the sites you visited, as a way of trying to compensate the publishers and creators for your ad blocking.

You use a crypto currency called Basic Attention Token (BAT).

If anyone has any questions about the setup process, I'd be happy to help.

As a side note: I live in Mexico, but I was happy to be able to fund a wallet and not be region-blocked for once.

Before using Brave, you should consider if you value their business model as ethical (I don't). What they do is filter-out ads and replace them with ads of their customers.

No, we do not. We talked about this model in 2016 but without specifying publishers as consenting partners -- which was implicit and is the only way we might do such third-party ad slot filling in Brave (work under way with partners, e.g., Dow Jones Media Group). The ad slot owner, in this case the publisher, gets 70%; the user gets 15%.

We would not replace ads on page without both user and publisher consent.

We are focused first on user-private ads that go in the user's inventory (notification channel and private tab), paying the user in tokens which then flow by default to the user's top sites and creators on YouTube, Twitch, etc. These ads involve no publisher at all so we pay the user 70%. In either case: 1/ ad "inventory" owner gets 70%, way above the programmatic norm of 40% or much lower due to fraud; 2/ user gets at least as much as we do. HTH.

No they filter out ads.

Then they give everyone the opportunity to use a Patreon-Style support or view Ads, optionally.

Why isn't it ethical to target big Ad-Tech middle men like Google and Facebook and increase efficiency and privacy at the same time?

The publishers didn't agree to it. Brave is not allowed to unilaterally dictate terms. If I'm going to steal from publishers, nobody should benefit, especially not some smarmy browser vendor. Similarly, if I'm going to pirate, I'm not going to pay some piracy middleman who makes up some cryptocurrency to send to the content creators.

Of Firefox, Chrome, and Brave; Brave is by far the worst browser of the bunch. It's not even pretending not to be evil, let alone trying and failing like the others.

But that's essentially was Google is doing: dictating things unilaterally.

And that's also how the web was founded. No one agreed to anything. People just started to build.

If there isn't a law against it, they are allowed to do it.

Everyone who uploads free content on the web without a paywall essentially says "take it and display it however you like".

Besides that, Brave is essentially building a sustainable model in favor of publishers. They will be very thankful.

It is ad-blocker without an alternative model that is problematic for publishers, not Brave. So I don't see why anyone besides Ad-Tech has a problem with Brave.

You conveniently ignore that most publishers desparately want to see a new model succeed, because Google and Facebook take too much of a share of the publishers. Brave takes less then Google et al., so publishers get more. That's why publishers like the Guardian are already on board.

Brave isn't free of problems, but arguing from a moral perspective isn't legitimate. So where does your hostility come from? Do you work for some big ad-tech company?

> But that's essentially was Google is doing: dictating things unilaterally

Nonsense. The publishers agreed to sell their inventory to Google, just as the movie studios agreed to license their content to Netflix or sell it on DVD.

Everything else from your post stems from this fundamental misunderstanding about how publishers monetize their content.

> That's why publishers like the Guardian are already on board.

Then it's ethical for Brave to monetize The Guardian's content. It is not ethical for it to monetize everybody else's. The same with a piracy service. If a piracy service resells content it has an agreement from the owner to resell, that's kosher. It doesn't mean that it also gets to resell everybody else's content.

> Do you work for some big ad-tech company?

No. I'm just not stupid enough to accept Eich's stupid output.

Brave does not monetize content. Everything that is monetized goes to the wallets of publishers, minus a fee.

Publishers don't "sell their inventory", since everything a website puts up on the web is essentially free. Consequently there isn't a licence involved, in contrast to your movie example. The publishers chose Google as their middle-man to make money with ads.

> Brave does not monetize content. Everything that is monetized goes to the wallets of publishers, minus a fee [emphasis added].

Your second sentence contradicts your first sentence.

> Publishers don't "sell their inventory", since everything a website puts up on the web is essentially free.

They have spots on their web pages for advertisements that they sell to Google or other ad networks. Brave unilaterally takes those spots from the publisher for a price the publisher never agreed to.

> The publishers chose Google as their middle-man to make money with ads.

That's the point. They sold that inventory to Google, not to Brave.

Well, after all it's called user-agent, not publisher-agent ;)

> everything a website puts up on the web is essentially free

No it's not, at least in the EU as of last month's copyright reform. Meaning aggregator and search sites need to pay royalties for syndicating significant portions to publishers. That it's technically possible to scrape content doesn't mean scraping doesn't run afoul of copyright legislation and press norms such as proper attribution. You could also technically "scrape" written books; yet re-publishing your own book copies isn't considered legal.

The copyright reform doesn't affect user agents.

Besides, it isn't even in effect yet.

> arguing from a moral perspective isn't legitimate

Not the one you're responding to, but to say his/her reasoning isn't "legitimate" is a bit rich when the GP (me) was about ethics. I'm with you on Google/Fb getting all the ad spent, but I don't think another middleman and wannabe monopoly such as Patreon is going to solve it. I might be in the minority here, but I think its fair publishers get their clicks for their content-based, non-tracking ads; we need to drive tracking, targeting and other third-party crap out of the web under privacy regulations, though, because that's what breaks the feedback of ad spend to publishers/creators (apart from causing the general race-to-the-bottom trend).

"Not the one you're responding to, but to say his/her reasoning isn't "legitimate" is a bit rich when the GP (me) was about ethics."

I agree, I overlooked that.

I’m a fan of Firefox and I use it when I am docked at home or near a power outlet but the battery life hit is enormous on Mac OS compared to Chrome and Safari. The performance is fine, I just wish I had better battery life when using Firefox on the go.

Yeah, last time I tried Firefox on Mac OS it was terrible. On my laptop, running GNU/Linux (with lower specs), it's way faster.

Exactly! I was confused for a long time about the slowness people kept talking about with Firefox, and then work switched to MacBooks. Firefox is faster and more capable on my cheap Linux device than any browser on the Mac, but on the Mac, Firefox is slowest. So strange.

When was the last time you tried it? It's still not as fast as on Windows or Linux but it's much better than it used to be.

The point is, performance-wise, it's not the best choice on Mac OS. Not that I care much, I rarely dwell on Apple computers.

Which has a few privacy scandals of its own. Marginally better than Chrome, not a silver bullet.

Can you elaborate as to why it is "marginally better than Chrome" please.

You could start by explaining how a privacy focused nonprofit is marginally worse than a multi-billion dollar advertising company with regards to privacy.

Because your "privacy focused nonprofit" is itself funded by those very same "multi-billion ad companies".

Sure, so this means they are now a multi-billion dollar advertising company as well?

If a tobacco company makes a donation to a cancer research charity, do we now hate the charity?

The money flow itself doesn't invalidate them. They have multiple bidders for their defaults, and that isolates them from the whims of their funders. The funders are just customers.

Marginally better than Chrome

That's a gross misrepresentation.

Are you saying you think it's much better or much worse?

Firefox is better.

Well... regarding what Mozilla did with Cliqz, I'm sure Google won't be sending my user data to third parties, which Mozilla did. So maybe Chrome is better than Firefox in that regard.

Do you mean this https://www.zdnet.com/article/firefox-tests-cliqz-engine-whi... ?

Mozilla was an investor in Cliqz, so it's not precisely a full-on third party. And the data was (at least, according to the article) well anonymized.

I can see why Moz would want to try and keep up with the user advantages of collecting this information -- catching malicious URLs, etc -- but even if it's just appearance-wise, they've lost a bit of trust here.

Frankly I think they should have two distributions of Firefox, one that's bells-and-whistles for the best user experience, and another that takes a more aggressive pro-privacy stance. This can be little more than the set of preinstalled extensions + default config.

To an extent Mozilla has that now on mobile with Firefox vs Firefox Focus.


Downloading focus now. Thanks!

Google does send your user data to third-parties, for "external processing" (it's in their privacy policy).

"Scandals" which have been nothing more than a bunch of idiots completely misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting what Mozilla is actually doing.

Mozilla does not have a history remotely related to any sort of privacy violations, except in the eyes of those who think that literally anything to do with "telemetry" or "advertizing" is automatically evil.

Problem is, you can have non-privacy-invasive and non-malicious telemetry and advertizing.

Google and Microsoft are particularly nasty in this regard. But don't extrapolate their behaviour onto Mozilla.

I used to run Lynx, but now I've upgraded to xlinks2 and can see images on pages too! ;-)

edit: except when they're in a sprite :/

I'm trying so hard to move my email away from Gmail. I have a paid proton account by the syncing for desktop and the mobile app is terrible. Are there any other options out there? I switched to Firefox and I love it so far.

It gets thrown around a lot and in my opinion for good reason - I've switched to Fastmail[1] myself. I've got the $5/mo account because I wanted to bring my own domains.

Had it for a while just forwarding everything to my gmail but have now cut the forwarding and switched fully. If you're in the Apple ecosystem the app I attribute to finally moving was Spark[2], which I discovered after Google announced it was killing off Inbox

[1] https://www.fastmail.com/ [2] https://sparkmailapp.com/

Doesn't spark scan your email box like GMail used to? I haven't found anything recent stating they have stopped that practice.

They do (it's why I've stopped using it). If you're in the iOS/macOS ecosystem, Airmail is a good option.

What does that mean? I imagine it has to scan my email if it's to provide the search functionality.

If you're hinting at something more untoward could you spell it out for me, I can't find anything that painted it with an ugly brush

A basic mail service is about IMAP (and P0P3), rather than webmail with full-text search. Searching through your mail is performed on your own computer using Thunderbird or another mail client. If your mail provider scans your email for targetting, you should switch to a paid provider where you are the customer, rather than the product.

I understand how mail works trust me, I used to manage a fleet of about 40 mail servers in a past job shudder

I'm sorry but these comments aren't really saying anything with any substance. If my mail provider "scans my email for targetting" - Do you mean ad targeting? Both the mail host and the app are paid products, not ad supported.

Sorry for not being clear and stating obvious things. I just wanted to express that IMHO a mail provider has no business of scanning your email (for ad targetting or other purposes), and should not get away with this. In fact, if your email provider engages in such things, then that could be a reason for another person/org to not send you mail over that channel, which kind of defeats the purpose of email.

If Gmail doesn't scan your email anymore, what's the objection to it?

Doesn't Fastmail still have their data centers in US? (that'd mean NSA could get the data, as Fastmail doesn't support PGP).

Related: https://www.privacytools.io/#email

Honestly, and this is for me personally not my overall worldview, if I'm ever doing anything the NSA would be interested in knowing about it wouldn't be discussed via email

I do understand your concern but I've always treated emails as I would postcards

Yes, if you're targeted by nation state it's a bigger problem but I still don't like the passive collection of all my data.

Thank you I will check it out.

I am finding that Amazon Workmail is pretty awesome, even for personal use cases. It was really convenient for me to configure as well because the domain I wanted to use was already in Route53.

I miss the Archive button in Workmail. Besides that it looks good!

If you have your own domain and don't send more than 10 emails (and a limit of 1GB) a day you can get Migadu, and I think it's $5 for upto 200 or something emails a day out (and practically everything is unlimited).

I still can't fully switch from GMail, but I've prepared myself so I have to since I'm gonna pay.

mailbox.org is a respected, privacy-focussed German mail provider who's been around since almost the beginning. According to their site, they're providing services to Wikimedia and many other NGOs. Though their business pricing is a bit steep compared to a run-of-the-mill mail space you get for your domain from the DNS registrar.

Google always knew that trust was very important to their long term growth and viability. It's why "Don't be evil" was their motto for so long and it actually appeared to be more than lip service. That motto is gone, and now they're actively monetizing that accumulated goodwill.

It's still in their code of conduct.

For me breaking point was enabled by default google assistant on any Android phone. Not assistant itself, but one smaaaal feature. If you hold home button a little bit longer phone takes screenshot and uploads it to google to recognize it. That... just insane. I only wonder why no one is talking about this?

I was done with Facebook several years ago even before I knew they were complicit in the subversion of our democracy.

And recently I deleted my last Google account after moving domains, voice number and email to other providers.

These are marketing companies and you are their product. This will only get worse. Opt out now.

I think it’s probably possible to model credit-worthiness according to search history and site use patterns. Google’s partnership with Mastercard could be something to do with that. What would be particularly irritating is if Google start showing credit offers next to product ads. Eg you look at an advert for a new iPhone and google then lets you know Mastercard will give you an immediate credit line for an impulse purchase. Marketing strategy is obviously focused on overcoming your will power to buy things you want but don’t need. One of our last lines of defence is: I can’t afford that right now...Mastercard and by axiom Google profit when you don’t think like that.

From: https://adwords.googleblog.com/2017/05/powering-ads-and-anal...

"even if your business doesn’t have a large loyalty program, you can still measure store sales by taking advantage of Google’s third-party partnerships, which capture approximately 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the United States"

Who knows what other 3rd party data they correlate...


mastercard does not issue cards, credit lines or control interest rates, your bank does this.

If you google Mastercard, in the results it says:

“Global leading company in payment solutions offering credit, debit, prepaid cards and more”.

I guess either they’re misinformed or you are :-)

Actually, he is correct. MasterCard process payments on transactions related to MasterCard branded cards. This is different than Amex, which acts as the network processor and the issuing bank.

It'd probably be a massive overfit to race and age. In comparison, everything else would be unbiased noise.

My guess is that Google, like Facebook, have a good impression of your CANOE/Big 5 personality type: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, Extroversion. And in that they have an extremely good assessment of your likelihood to repay loans.

How does browsing/purchasing history tell you about those?

I understand that this has been at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica political manipulation scandal. The basic methodology is take a large sample of people whose big 5 traits you know, and look at their browsing history. Through this you create a model: people visiting x websites are statistically more likely to be y personality. Then when they look at your patterns of web use, they are able to assign you a personality type. Or more specifically group you with others likely to be of that personality type. Of course this assignment may be incorrect, but of course over a large number of people using this methodology, they are more likely to be right than wrong across most people. And although I’m not a statistician, this is the power of big data.

Ok, I disagree here. The data analysis done so far describes what you look at, but not why. AFAIK CA identified which party you were likely to vote for, and what concerns (gun control, Clinton Foundation, Islam, etc) concerned you. Mostly just classify the topic of links people post.

There's a big jump to determining your levels of Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, Extroversion. Do people post articles that imply a negative agreeableness? I don't know -- political articles are typically intended to persuade, so you can safely argue that the poster believes in the article they post. But I don't know what kind of assumptions you can make about someone's facebook posts -- much less their browsing / purchasing behavior -- to determine aspects of their personality.

Your disagreement here, as far as I understand it, is the central point of disagreement in the debate around the impact of the FB/Google on behavior. On one side, you have people saying that internet use can be indicative of personality type. Others say no: because they can’t discern the reason behind why you do what you do. I have done some statistics, multiple regression and the like a long time ago, but I’m not entirely expert enough to be fully confident in my conclusions, but look at it this way: (1) you may visit a gun site, not because you are interested in guns, but because you are doing market research for your employer or because you accidentally clicked on a link, (2) however 90% of people clicked on the link because they like guns, and that says something about their personality. Now of course 90% is not perfect, but the predictive power at large scale of that insight is huge.

What does looking at guns say about someone's personality? That's what I don't get. Are they fearful after a home invasion? Do they like marksmanship? Are they looking for a gift for someone? Are their friends into shooting, and they're looking for ways to hang out more with their friends? How do you know why? And if you did, does that tell you about their personality?

There's a large jump there between an interest and "Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, Extroversion." I don't think any amount of "throw big data and other buzzword at it" will reduce that jump, because you're more likely to train against other attributes of your population than their personality.

I don't think anything's actually changed in terms of how you can be tracked, it's just being made obvious to you. If you don't want your browsing linked to your gmail, use different profiles or use a private browsing window.

> If you don't want your browsing linked to your gmail, use different profiles or use a private browsing window.

It still requires a mental effort to make sure your information is not linked. One small mistake (e.g. visit site in wrong browser window) and all your previous effort is wasted.

Therefore, we need not only technical solutions. We need companies to change. Perhaps by an update of the law (GDPR for US), and if this doesn't work then perhaps we should even consider a ban on personalized advertising to make sure that these companies have no incentive to trick the user into disclosing personal information.

I have an understanding on both sides. To keep our privacy is something we initially feel should be our decisions. However, besides companies buying Google services, most individuals do not pay for Google services. Chrome, Gmail, Google search, are monetarily free for us. We are paying with our information. If you use the service then you are saying yes to allow companies to enact these dark patterns, ethics aside. One could argue if the internet is a right, but that's another day

Although it would be helpful for some if Google laid it out transparently to individuals who do not have the technical slop to understand what they are "losing"

Google is a brilliant company but ad based business models have weird incentive structures. When your primary customer isn't actually using your product it makes product decisions harder. I don't think Google means harm but it does seem like they are making some questionable decisions. Zuck was smart to remove ads on FB even though it cost FB lots of ad revenue. Their web browser change had no obvious benefit for users compare to how creepy it is to have gmail forced on you by the web browser. they might have some hidden strategy that will eventually benefit chrome users but it's not clear what that is

I still see advertisements on Facebook. Even more so, in fact. They now have ads that will cut in while you're watching a video.

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