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Bye, Bye, Google (defn.io)
539 points by Bogdanp on Feb 4, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 287 comments

It’s fascinating how regularly the beloved underdogs of the tech world rise to become monopolistic titans, betray (or are perceived as betraying) their original ethos, and are turned on and repudiated by the technorati. I’ve seen it happen three and a half times in my life: the monopolistic phase for Microsoft, the rise and repudiation of Google and Facebook, and something along those lines for Apple (though they’re somewhat different, probably because of very snide perception-management).

I’m not saying it’s wrong (I actually think it’s fair), it’s just that the regularity is amusing. When Microsoft was represented by a Locutus-ified Bill Gates on Slashdot two decades ago, “do no evil” open-source champion Google could do no wrong,

I was about to write “oh, how far the mighty have fallen!” but upon closer consideration that would be the wrong epithet. It’s precisely because it has not fallen, and because it has become too mighty, that is now viewed with ever-growing suspicion.

The vaunted free market that so enamours Silicon Valley and digital utopianists cannot avoid corrupting these companies’ moral cores, apparently. Quite the opposite of the declared ethos.

EDIT: The cherished underdogs of today, if they do not succumb, regularly become the maligned monsters of tomorrow. It’s almost as if there’s something built into the system that corrupts them...

My rule of thumb:

If a company is a public company, it can't help BUT be evil.

Corollaries and commentary:

1) Evil arises from public companies' duty to generate as much money as possible for their shareholders. Private companies have more freedom to make less money and to not be evil--or even to choose to "die" while retaining their honor and that of their members.

2) A public company might not be evil now, but if it keeps growing, it will eventually be evil.

3) This applies regardless of the initial size, values, and idealism of the company; the choice to be a public company seals its fate.

I think the "borg" is actually a more fitting analogy. They aren't actually evil, it's just that their only purpose is perceived as evil even though they are really neutral, they don't care if you want to join them or not (e.g. C corporations have only one purpose, which is to maximize shareholder profit.)

Also, there is another choice, which is becoming a benefit corporation. Google didn't choose this, likely because it means your shareholders are probably going to be fewer as you aren't primarily serving them. So really, the founders betrayed their values by wanting to become huge which beheld them to the "shareholder value at all costs" mandate.

So this was a long winded way to say that a really idealistic software company should start out as a b corp.

This is a good point, but I don't know if the public/private distinction is that relevant. Lots of private companies still take funding from VC's or other investors, who still generally demand a profit-at-any-cost approach. Uber is an easy example of this.

Private company have the OPTION of selling themselves out. Public companies have no choice but to do so.

(I might be oversimplifying, but hey, it's a rule of thumb!)

> If a company is a public company, it can't help BUT be evil...[this arises from the] duty to generate as much money as possible for their shareholders.

That's clearly a very undesirable result. I do hold out hope that one day either alternative ownership styles (e.g. mutuals or cooperatives) or reform that gives other stakeholders a seats in corporate boards will mitigate the problem.

That's a little bit off.

Read https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_truth_about_ben_and_jerr... and skip to Legal Landscape.

The article as a whole is about Unilever betraying the corporate values after buying the company and whether the sale was really forced, but that particular section goes into detail why what you're saying isn't universally true.

The TL;DR is that a number of state laws (and possibly higher level, hadn't finished researching) specifically carve out room for companies to consider corporate values over investor money in fulfilling fiduciary duty. They establish multiple classes of people--including customers--to be constituencies being served, not just investors.

So you can absolutely incorporate in a way that will run your company to make as much money as possible for public shareholders within the bounds of what makes the company that company, including value systems. If a company betrays their stated values, that's absolutely on that company, not an inevitable fate for going public.

Relevant quote:

Most state legislatures have resisted the tenets of Dodge v. Ford by enacting statutes that expressly authorize corporate directors to look beyond shareholder wealth maximization. Vermont enacted one, nicknamed “the Ben & Jerry’s law,” after the company had successfully lobbied Vermont’s legislature. Vermont’s “other constituency” statute, as these laws are called, is illustrative: It provides that when directors make decisions they may consider such matters as “the interests of the corporation’s employees, suppliers, creditors, and customers; the economy of the state, region, and nation; [and] community and societal considerations, including those of any community in which any offices or facilities of the corporation are located.” State statutes also give corporations wide latitude to donate profits to charities.

Edit: having problems finding a clear list, but looks like ~35 states have them, including Delaware. California, interestingly, does not have one. Looks like one made it through legislature years ago when these were all popping up, but Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

> The vaunted free market that so enamours Silicon Valley and digital utopianists cannot avoid corrupting these companies’ moral cores, apparently. Quite the opposite of the declared ethos.

It's a function of incentives, large organizations, moral hazards, and the expectation of perpetual growth. And it will probably reboot, repeatedly crashing, over and over until the end of time.

"Don't be evil." Maybe "Don't pursue exponential growth indefinitely?"

Part of this is unintended consequences. Previous rulings have said that the board and company must prioritize shareholder benefit to avoid them focusing on their own personal enrichment. At the same time, this pursuit of growth is why the stock market is growing 25%+ in the good years which everyone loves seeing in their 401K and IRA statements.

We really need to encourage more B corporations both in the founding and running and also by eschewing public company stocks that are not.

It's a common belief, that boards have encouraged, that they are "required" to act in the best interests of shareholders by maximizing share value. This is wrong on both accounts. Boards are only required to consider the direct impact on shareholders when deciding on events that would directly impact them, ie mergers and acquisitions. The rest of the time they can do as they please shareholders be damned, and there is a ton of case law supporting that.

The OG battle of Dodge v Ford was about profit margins and sort-of about dividends. It's hard not to feel that the case law is muddy on the subject given that's where its roots lay.

I’m curious if “free markets” are really driving these companies towards endless growth every quarter or if it’s the result of the sophisticated capital system Wall St pioneered in the late 1800s.

If anything it’s a function of American style public markets and I’m not going for a no true Scotsman argument but rather it’s important to look at the whole system in place rather than dismissive politicized labels.

This skewed incentive system then gets combined with another common problem and made far worse. Public stock market corporations are not the only ones who decline in caring about their core values. This happens to many actual public government agencies, non profits, or any large organization when later generations of executive take over...people who weren’t there for the original vision. These people care more about the organization itself than they do about what value the organization delivers to society.

In public stock companies this usually means the people who then start to only care about the accountants demands (tons of CEOs are accountants, few are engineers) and what public investors think and feel (their moods often determine prices as much as reality) and most importantly not caring first about their value to customers... which had created the whole empire [1]. Ala the Iron rule of bureaucracy [2].

[1] GE is the perfect example of this, where the finance/Wall St guys took over, created the highest growth rates, then nearly destroyed the company in pursuit of growth, and changed the whole company away from their core engineering business and nearly destroyed it. They are now slowly slimming the Capital division and retiring to making things


[2] https://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/iron.html

FWIW, the CEO of Rogers (large Canadian telecom and media corp) was an engineer by training. It's not much different. (Though I'll give him points for pushing for improved customer focus, while focusing on growing the network infrastructure, and for choosing Ericsson equipment primarily) But still. They're not well-liked in Canada—though maybe less hated currently with the recent heat on Bell.

Yeah that's more of a representative example of the culture of public companies (accountants and finance running the show) rather than engineer-CEOs being some panacea solution.

Individuals and leaders within the company help but they're all playing the same game in a culture which values the organization for the organizations sake combined with a system that forces companies to be laser focused on a single metric... when companies in a typical marketplace are a collection of metrics/incentives.

Yes you're spot on, even if this morning every single employee working at Google is highly ethical and working towards bettering humanity, it's still not going to be true tomorrow.

The phrase in the article that really popped out at me was "no one is truly at the helm". When a mega-corporation gets this massive and powerful it's not going to be possible to account for everyone in the building and all the bad decisions that can occur.

What did Apple betray? Wasn’t it always a walled garden, enforcing things are done their way? If anything, it’s been moving more and more pro-privacy recently...

Apple's case is slightly more complicated. From 1995-2004 I used Linux, from 2004-2018 I used Mac (whole ecosystem), from 2018 onwards I'm back to Linux.

To be honest my reasons are: I really just think Tim Cook has little to no vision and all their products are showing the effects of "bozo explosion".

Any organization that doubles, triples, or quadruples in size winds up being a giant host to parasitic employees (middle manager bozos, usually), whose basic motive is (a) do little work, (b) get paid. The real world effects is the company stops being able to make decisions and continues to double-down on mistakes (removing headphone jacks to force consumers into buying your proprietary 'ear pods'). All those "one time tricks" to boost revenue eventually run out...ask Balmer.

For me, it’s about weighing your options carefully and accepting the things you can’t change. I tried to move away from the Windows ecosystem to Linux but quickly found it lacking in the areas that were very important to me, namely music production. I really love Linux and still use it for certain things (and I even switched my daughter who’s now in HS to it and she loves it).

There is certainly a duality to the walled garden paradigm - on the one hand, a very controlled environment presumably ensures quality and reliability, however it also creates an environment vulnerable to abuse, such as fixed pricing schemes. All Apple users have to accept the fact that they can’t upgrade their hardware, ever. And because Apple ultimately has control over all aspects to f their ecosystem, an OS upgrade can and often will hose your carefully configured rig. Like MS, Apple is not concerned with the hapiness of a particular segment of their user base; No, they care about pushing new features and fixing security vulnerabilities. They are just like any other big company that cares about their bottom line. I chose to accept this as the lesser of the two evils. Perhaps at some point in the future, a company will come along that actually cares about users.

Philosophyally, there is not much difference between Apple and MS, but Apple at the moment just happens to have an ecosystem that favors artists, while Linux is like the deadbeat dad that shows up once in a while. But blaming “Linux” for lack of artist support is also unfair because Linux is not a single entity.

I make my choices with eyes wide open. I may hate some aspects of my choices, but I am not forced into them.

Are you sure Apple's products teams grew? AFAIK these were quite small and I did not hear anyone talking about them growing. Going back to Linux because Apple has no vision—I'd say this is another level of ironic.

Being a part of the Apple ecosystem is, in large part, paying into a future vision. Without this vision, what's the point of spending top dollar to be a part of something utterly uncertain?

Linux is a much much lower cost of entry - there's no grand vision expectation.

You can be an Apple user without being a part of the Apple ecosystem.

I've been an Android user since forever but I had to switch to iPhone X to dogfood my app. I "switched without switching" -- my photos are still saved to Google Photos, my contacts are synched with Google Contacts, etc.

I'm perfectly fine after the switch. All my mobile workflows are intact. When it's time to switch back to Android, I'm sure I'll be able to switch without any major problems (except for one thing -- I'll likely miss the build quality of iPhone X).

You buy Apple products because you think their products are the best. It's fine if you don't, most people seem to think so which is why they have overwhelming share of high end products.

You're not paying for a future vision at all. That doesn't make any sense because they don't tell you what's coming in the future and actively try to prevent people from finding out.

I have two problems with Apple:

1) If you use iMessage, you cannot switch out of it without losing access to any group messages you were in before. Any messages other iMessage users try to send you will simply be silently deleted. I believe this violates federal telecommunications law.

2) Apple prohibits selling virtual goods in iOS apps, unless you give them a 30% cut. I believe this is racketeering.

Obviously there is room for legal debate here, but I think these are anti-competitive choices Apple has made, which weren't present in iPhone 1.

They are able to continue to do these things because the vast majority of iPhone customers don't realize they are happening. But they maintain platform lock-in.

It's certainly a familiar pattern.

It always reminded me of the standard trick of new rulers granting favors to gain popular support. Caligula is especially famous for burning the treason records of his predecessor and giving out bonuses and calling back exiles. Caesar did similar things.

When a company is new they have to gain support. They talk about changing the world and often focus on things like employee happiness.

But ultimately it all comes down to the shareholders, and expenses have to be tightened once it no longer makes sense to pay a premium for good will.

Maybe something corrupts the founders. But it's also possible the founders planned it all along. Certainly it seems like my the earliest investors are aware of this game.

>When Microsoft was represented by a Locutus-ified Bill Gates on Slashdot two decades ago, “do no evil” open-source champion Google could do no wrong,

That does NOT match my recollection of Google's early days. Among my immediate network it was pretty common to view Google with a LOT of trepidation given the implied dangers of having so much data.

OTOH, nobody I know in real life has felt this way about Apple, largely because you can avoid their power if you decide their approach doesn't work for you.

I think there was a lot of naïve belief that with a love of open standards and "Do No Evil" as unofficial mascot, even with all that data they might be reasonable "overlords".

I know in some of my circles we didn't start to feel trepidation until they acquired dot-com era mustachioed villains DoubleClick, and certainly the point of no-return for me was G+ killing Reader and XMPP access in Talk.

Apple's brand of 'evil' was the capricious rules of the App Store walled garden and Apple's rent seeking on iPhone/iPad accessories. Then there was the whole wage suppression thing.

At least with Apple, they never seemed terribly interested in world domination.

Whether or not the rules in the App Store are "capricious" is widely debated, but it's probably safe to say that they're coming out looking pretty good vis a vis malware and end-user experience as a result.

>Apple's rent seeking on iPhone/iPad accessories.

People who dislike Apple love to say things like this, but I've never really seen anything that qualifies. Is Apple stuff more expensive? Yes. But you tend to get more for your money. The only laptops I ever had that rivaled my MacBook Pros in longevity were the pre-Lenovo ThinkPads, which were ALSO often maligned as being overpriced. LOL.

(Candidly, I think THAT might have been true -- I had a ThinkPad back in the 90s that was so over-built that it was still solid and perfect WELL after its last point of technological viability, and in an era when "well, just put Linux on it and use it for something else" wasn't really an option yet. Great laptop for about 3 years though.)

> Whether or not the rules in the App Store are "capricious" is widely debated, but it's probably safe to say that they're coming out looking pretty good vis a vis malware and end-user experience as a result.

Apple's walled garden certainly has its benefits. It's like a benevolent dictatorship, that is occasionally heavy-handed and is not always consistent.

> People who dislike Apple love to say things like this, but I've never really seen anything that qualifies. Is Apple stuff more expensive? Yes. But you tend to get more for your money.

For accessories? There is literally no reason for Apple to put DRM on their lightning connector interface other than to lock out unlicensed accessories and charge exorbitant prices for Apple replacements. Even something simply like an A/C adapter for an iPad is like $40. You really aren't getting more for your money in that case.

Apple's hardware is usually excellent and worth the price of admission. My Macbooks were the best computers I've ever owned.

(Because I can't think of any) Who, in 2019, are the "cherished underdogs of today"?

>Who, in 2019, are the "cherished underdogs of today"?

My guess:

- Email: Protonmail get recommended all the time on HN/Reddit

- Analytics: Simpleanalytics seems to be the new champion

- Search Engine: DuckDuckGo

- Browser: Probably Vivaldi, or maybe Brave

Brave stole a lot of bitcoin from people by converting it into their useless/worthless BAT.

>Brave stole a lot of bitcoin from people by converting it into their useless/worthless BAT.

What is this even supposed to mean?

I'm both a Brave publisher (4 verified websites) and a Brave browser user, nothing like this ever happened

As a publisher you can choose in which token you want to be paid, BTC, ETH or else, you are never forced to accept BAT.

As you can see on this screenshot: https://imgur.com/a/TKg1m0i

From the Brave publisher dashboard

Not sure how one can say brave stole anything. Pretty sure i use their browser for free and buy my BAT on my own doing. And give it to publishers on my own doing

Mozilla probably if you are thinking of household names. AMD and RISC-V have some optimism on the hardware side.

I think both Github and Cloudfare are former cherished underdogs, both of which have undergone the first-phase conversion to "no longer underdogs but still widely appreciated". We'll have to see how they both fare post-acquisition/IPO.

Get large enough and you will run afoul of anyone's morals.

this is not excusing the issues at hand but people still tend to censor their offense based on non rational criteria; see the pass that Apple gets with China/Russia all because lots of people like their phones.

Either you die a hero...

I think part of the problem of a culture of "don't be evil" is that it's so easy to move the goal posts. Don't be evil under a utilitarian mindset (which 90% of America probably prescribes) is basically a form of moral relativism. Evil is relative.

Last I checked these companies are still worth fortunes and serve millions of developers and tech hobbyists and regular people...

How exactly are they being rejected except in the small little bubble of Hackernews?

> The vaunted free market that so enamours Silicon Valley and digital utopianists cannot avoid corrupting these companies’ moral cores, apparently.

I don't think it was the free market which corrupted their moral cores; it was their leaders’ and employees’ corruption which corrupted the companies’ moral cores — and the free market was insufficient to prevent that corruption.

Who are "the" technorati? Are you talking about actual individuals who changed their minds, or a general "group"? If the latter, the contradictions are based mostly on that.

Google had goodwill and fooled a lot of people for a bit there, sure, but that was over 15 years ago -- and when were Microsoft, Apple or Facebook known for their "moral core"? To whom?

This is amazing. So many people are starting to de-Google their life. It somehow become a popular subject. Earlier this week Fast Company wrote [1] about it, DuckDuckGo reached 1 billion monthly searches [2] and it's a common thing to see in Hacker News' posts lately.

I'm personally very happy with the raise of awareness. I'm hoping it's will reach the regular folks.

I realized this a few months ago when I started Simple Analytics [3]. I see that advertising is almost done automatically by the press. When Facebook or Google has bad press, it's great for privacy first tools.

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/90300072/its-time-to-ditch-googl...

[2] https://twitter.com/DuckDuckGo/status/1091709578444750849

[3] https://simpleanalytics.io/?ref=news.ycombinator.com

> So many people are starting to de-Google their life

I'm sorry to be that guy but... citation needed. What evidence is there that this is anything but a fringe movement within the tech community let alone mainstream in any way, shape or form? And "common thing to see in HN posts lately" isn't evidence of that, sorry.

> DuckDuckGo reached 1 billion monthly searches

Two questions:

1. How much time do you think it takes for Google to reach 1B searches? and

2. How many DDG users routinely use !g (or otherwise use Google results)?

As much as HNers like to bang the drum about "privacy" the term is ill-defined. Take search because its straightforward. Your search results are personalized by a bunch of factors including, but not limited to:

- Previous searches

- Location

- Language

- Inferred or actual demographics

The fringe privacy element is I guess most concerned with previous searches? Or is it all of the above? And if you say that location is not OK, take a simple search for "bakery". Isn't it better UX to show local bakeries?

Another question: the alternative to "free" (ie ad-supported) models is user pays. How exactly does this work for users in the developing world for whom $5/month might be a significant amount of money? Will they value their "privacy" the same way?

The assumption (by DDGers and their ilk) that using [Big company products] is some Faustian bargain is hyperbolic and unsubstantiated.

In places where $5 a month might be too much they are worth much less to google with fewer people targeting that group. Privacy isn't as big of a concern as access issues.

No one targets the 99% percentile directly. It is much cheaper to go non-targeted advertising and hit as many people as possible perhaps targeting at the country/region or language level only.

DuckDuckGo is really Bing under the covers... People are literally moving from Google back to Microsoft, and feeling good about it because it has different branding.

Source: https://www.quora.com/How-is-the-Bing-API-used-by-DuckDuckGo

...and feeling good about it because DDG protects their privacy.

I’m not particularly concerned with the backing engine as long as they’re not tracking me and I’m getting acceptable results.

Why not make a wrapper around SerpApi.com/search and use Google behind proxies then?

DuckDuckGo says otherwise [1] and the founder explains their Bing use [2] on their forum [3].

[1] https://duck.co/help/results/sources

[2] https://duck.co/forum/comment/27893

[3] https://duck.co/forum/thread/4350/did-you-know-that-duckduck...

I'll note that both of those forum links are from 8 years ago and may not entirely reflect current practice. Their "Sources" page also notes their own crawler the DuckDuckBot, and references connections with more specialized searches like Yelp and Stack Overflow.

Just to give a bit of context, that forum discussion was 8 months before Snapchat was founded and 6 months before Google bought Motorola Mobility (which split off just before the thread in question).

Your first link basically confirms it.

> 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.

All organic links are sourced from Oath and Bing. The other 400 sources (and their crawler) are only used for widget style stuff.

> variety of partners, including Oath (formerly Yahoo) and Bing.

They use Bing. That's something else than:

> DuckDuckGo is really Bing under the covers [...]

Strange. I just searched for 'KlaxonException: Unable to instantiate with parameters' without the quotes

Bing returned just one result - An issue on Github

DDG shows multiple results. The bing one is result number 4.

I think they include Bing results but augment it with their own spider.

How is that source credible? He works for neither DuckDuckGo nor Bing. For the record I did the thing he suggests: the same search on DDG and Bing–the results are not identical.

"DuckDuckGo is really Bing under the covers..."

This is not a new thing. Historically speaking numerous "search engines" have actually used different engines under the hood. Yahoo hasn't been "Yahoo" in a long time, for instance, and I believe AltaVista moved from its own engine to somebody else's for a good long time before its demise.

(There's probably an interesting and nuanced discussion of the virtues and perils of a search engine provider depending on another company for something so critical. I hope DDG is investing significantly into their own engine, even if it's not ready-to-go.)

And it's a real change. I wouldn't even particularly care if DuckDuckGo did use Google, because the things about Google I find most objectionable would still be solved by proxying through DDG. Not 100%. The result might serve AMP pages, which is annoying, and not being a Silicon Valley liberal, I can clearly see how censorious Google is with its search results, or at least, how much they tilt the scales in their own political favor. But the primary issue, tracking me and the monetization thereto, would still be solved.

Nothing to do with branding. Moving off Google has privacy benefits. I'm feeling good because I'm less dissected by one single company.

I literally trust MS more than Google at this point, so... OK?

And this is how you know that we are in trouble. I don't like this version of the matrix and formally request a reboot.

Why does it matter that search engines use other search engines by proxy?

Using DDG for Bing, or Startpage.com/Ixquick for Google, or Searx for either of them, should not provide the original search engine with your data. Bing and Google should just see actually anonymous search queries coming in from DDG / Startpage / whatever you're using, instead of seeing the search requests coming from your browser session.

At least this is my understanding of it - please correct me if I understand this wrong. But if this is the right way to understand it, I don't get how using DDG would then be equivalent to using a Microsoft product directly.

That's not a privacy issue. But indeed, you will support Microsoft when using DuckDuckGo. I believe it's necessary to use a big search engine before building your own.

Their ads also run via Bing Ads. This is something they really should change a believe. I tried to run ads for Simple Analytics on DDG but it feels very wrong to use Bing Ads for that. You can't also select "Run on DuckDuckGo only". I think they should move to something of themselves which is likely to happen if they grow bigger.

I don't understand why people spread such fake news so readily. In this case you can TRIVIALLY prove this true or false. Did you decide to test this before stating it? No, obviously not.

I decided to search for "space engine exhaust". The reason I searched for this is because it has some hot keywords, but also some keywords that are probably fairly uncommon. The idea was to get a mix of softball hits along with some per engine unique hits. And it looks like it was a pretty good test query. Here they are:



And, lo and behold, they give very different results. DuckDuckGo may utilize Bing's results, but they are not "Bing under the covers" by any stretch of the imagination.


Just for the sake of completion here is the google search for the same:


Interestingly enough I think is a good example of the increasingly large percent of queries where Google gives the clearly worst results. Their top 4/4 results all being for spaceengine.org which is a universe simulator, but very unlikely to be what somebody who was searching for 'space engine exhaust' was after.

It's not fake news. They confirm it themselves: https://duck.co/help/results/sources

> In fact, 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.

In other words, all organic results are from Bing and Oath.

> here is the google search for the same

That's one of the issues for me: those are your results, but there's no telling what anyone else might get when clicking on that link. "Feeds" of all kind, personalized by black boxes rather than explicit parameters we have access to, deprive us of a common (virtual) world to discuss.

My top 4 results were http://spaceengine.org/support-old/ , http://forum.spaceengine.org/viewtopic.php?t=33 , https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/05/23/the-... and https://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/system/system_SSME.html

Yeah, this is a very good point. I never use Google anymore and assumed that going incognito would have been enough to get roughly 'bare' results. Perhaps a reminder that just because you don't use Google doesn't mean that Google isn't tracking you extensively in any case due to analytics and countless other indirect forms of tracking and profiling.

I just kept reloading the same search through a bunch of different TOR identities + anti-finger printing, and it was like playing search roulette. And indeed there were, on occasion, actually some great results that don't show up elsewhere. It's such a shame that they're all masked behind some black box of tracking with another black box of ML and filtering. It's like two people going to the same library where librarian deciding to hide books from one person or the other because she, and her all seeing eye, thought they'd have less interest in them than other books.

I get exactly same results for those two searches. Calling BING API repeatedly may sometimes result in different results.

Can you mention the results you're getting? I see 10 results on DDG. There are only 4 shared results:






The 6 nonshared results are:








I just tested this from various countries to ensure this was not biasing it. It wasn't. Bing gives localized results, such as German results when searching from Germany. DDG gives identical results from any country. So presumably everybody is getting these same results from DDG. Are you saying this is also exactly what you got from Bing?

> Source : "growth hacker, likes online marketing"

You need a better source, IMHO.

DDG themselves claim to use multiple sources, including Bing (but not including Google). I've seen DDG == Bing mentioned enough times that I'm inclined to believe they leverage it heavily, but it doesn't seem as unnuanced as just spitting out Bing API results 1:1.



It's all Bing and Oath.

> It's all Bing and Oath

That statement isn't fully supported by the link you provided. It does however seem reasonable that DDG results are based in large part on Bing and Oath.

"In fact, 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."

Really enjoyed the video on your landing page. Seemed initially cheesy but ended up being perfect.

Thank you! I fill forward your comment to the creators.

I've been looking for other analytics solutions that aren't creepy, your timing is great. Looks promising!

> So many people are starting to de-Google their life.

Is this actually true or just an anecdote? Last time I checked the market share for core Google products was growing everywhere except in China, especially in Europe where EU has been killing off the remaining competition through GDPR et al.

I'm all for seeing newcomers take on the incumbent behemoths, but I also like true information.

It can be both. They can get new customers in markets while old customers are actively trying to move away from them in higher numbers than ever before.

I'm one of them. While I'm not completely de-Google-ing my life, I did set up Firefox at work and use DuckDuckGo for my searches there now.

I do not like DDG. Google almost always gave me what I wanted, whereas DDG is about 80% of the time. I often end up wishing I'd just used Google the first time instead. 80% sounds like a good number, but it means that I'm often frustrated with it when I wouldn't have been with Google.

I'm seeing this trend (it is a personal statement), and if I look at Googles popularity in Google Trends [1] it's going down in the last 5 years. It's still huge compared to privacy first products like DuckDuckGo [2].

Again, it's my view around me. I didn't have my business yet so it could be that my eyes are more open to privacy first products.

[1] https://g.co/trends/363ud

[2] https://g.co/trends/a7kcZ

I'm not sure that the trend of fewer people googling Google on Google means fewer people are using Google.

That's closer to the point, but market share dropping only implies fewer users if the total number of users is stagnant. If the search market is still growing it could just mean Google is growing at a slower rate than other search engines.

What public metric would you use to prove this (or the opposite of this) point?

>I'm seeing this trend (it is a personal statement)

So it's anecdata..

It was based on that, but if I look at market share of Google Search in America [1] it goes down for quite some years already.

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/267161/market-share-of-s...

Congratulations! Personally, I'm not that radical but I agree with the motives.

I don't use gmail or google docs for anything essential and have my own email address for the past 20 years anyway, but getting away from Youtube is harder. There is a lot of interesting content on Youtube, like Numberphile and 3Blue1Brown, and I wouldn't know where to find this elsewhere. I also use Youtube for its intended main purpose, listening to illegally pirated music content. I don't understand how Youtube's management have succeeded in staying outside prison so far, it seems that the laws in this area are applied extremely selectively. Anyway, you can find and listen to almost any record from any time period at any time on Youtube without paying a cent, and I haven't found a replacement for that yet either.

> I don't understand how Youtube's management have succeeded in staying outside prison so far,

They manage this by letting the big media/music corps claim ad revenue from any video they feel like they own, no questions asked. That's how they manage to stay out of jail. I suspect Youtube is a pretty decent revenue source for these corporations.

It's basically impossible to tell, as a human, on YouTube which videos are sanctioned by Copyright owners and being monetized, and which are evading YouTube's Content ID systems. Clearly some are - e.g. videos where the content is horizontally flipped, or in a small box, or the audio is heavily distorted - but that's not universally true.

You can usually click "Show more" in the video description and see if there's any copyrighted content identified by Content ID. If there is, most likely the copyright owners are getting the ad revenue (if it's not an official channel).

I always assumed that VEVO were legal and the others illegal (unless uploaded by the artist, usually for amateurs or not-so-big-time artists)

Actually YouTube doesn't ask anyone who claims the revenue of someone else's video :)

It's pretty amazing that content creators haven't left yet; of course, the problems with copyright claims are likely to chase them wherever they go. At least they've become less dependent on Youtube's revenue, thanks to Patreon donations.

I think the problem is that most people use YouTube to find content (I’ve heard it’s the most popular search engine after Google). If you’re not on YouTube you’ll likely not be found.

I wouldn't call "not using Google" radical. We have grown used to hearing that independence on GAFAs means being "radical", even though it should probably be the norm.

I think it's ironic you're arguing it's not radical when you couldn't even have posted that comment without GAFA as ycombinator is hosted out of AWS https://www.ultratools.com/tools/ipWhoisLookupResult.

It's radical from the sheer volume of change you'd have to make to your day to day life alone.

>I also use Youtube for its intended main purpose, listening to illegally pirated music content.

Isn't the quality shit though ? It's good for discovery I guess, but if you have regular stuff that you listen often, wouldn't you be better off procuring good quality files ?

I agree that the quality is shit. It's still my main source for music. I can't be bothered to create my own playlists, and the one's in Spotify etc are always full of stuff that I really don't like.

On YouTube it's just search for genre and you're done.

> 3Blue1Brown, and I wouldn't know where to find this elsewhere

Check out LBRY (https://lbry.io). 3Blue1Brown's content is available there, along with lots of great Youtube channels. If your favorite channel isn't there yet, reach out to the creator and encourage them to sync by visiting https://lbry.io/youtube (its a one-click process and they can get paid for it). Or let me know who you'd like to see there and we'll do our best to convince them for you.

> I also use Youtube for its intended main purpose, listening to illegally pirated music content.

Can you stand the ads that are played after every other song?

That's avoidable too, with use of youtube-dl/mpv and such.

Youtube adverts don't work on my browser.

I guess he uses an ad-blocker

They don't show up in my browser. (Adblockers, I suppose)

this is highly location dependent. Some countries see many more ads than others on Youtube.

Too big to jail. Google spends million lobbying so politicians that usually held local representativs accountable look elsewhere - I mean who would want to cut off their supply of free cash. Google/Youtube also hires tens of thausands of employees, including hefty chunk in California. So those local representatives like govenors or mayors won’t mention raidin Youtube because that may mean many people out of jobs - people that voted them in the office/s in the first place. But please don’t try it at home. Unless you are a Google size or Google connections, you can be sure they will come after you. I mean they still are on Dot Com case and most likely he will be soon extradited to usa.

Actually. Truly pirated content - whole movies - are removed as soon as they're found (or even before they're uploaded). Music videos - and music used by others than the publishers - get all their ad revenue to the publishers themselves, so for the music publishers it becomes a streaming platform like Spotify (plus there's links to Google Play and such in the description).

They won't sue as long as youtube pays them.

I can imagine that in the USA interest google stays on top, because when that spot is open and suddenly a foreign company competes for it it will be a big loss. Maybe even as far as considering it to be of national security interest.

I avoid Google when possible, but... can we stop saying shit in these articles that isn't proven true? Google doesn't release your email address if you delete it. Squatting isn't an issue there.

When we just start saying things that are proven incorrect it makes the entire discussion look like a bunch of spooks, it's not helpful.

Sorry! I should've been more clear. I'm keeping it so there's no chance of them releasing it without my knowledge down the line. Whether their policy right now is to release it or not, I feel safer by not deleting the account.

FYI, Fastmail does recycle names if you use a fastmail.com address, so stick to your own domain if using their service.

Fastmail is not a good privacy first solution. People do share it as a great Google Mail alternative, but it's not more privacy friendly [1].

[1] https://www.quora.com/Fastmail-or-Protonmail-Which-one-is-tr...

"Privacy friendly" is more than a binary "has end-to-end encryption or not" when it comes to e-mail, especially given the issues laid out in the quoted document (which the quora answer then dismisses, arguably not having understood the basis for them or at least not properly establishing why they think it still provides a benefit). In nearly all cases you have to trust your provider in the end, so the more important question is "which organization do I trust the most".

It's a good point.

As an Aussie who vaguely follows Aussie politics. I know that at the very least the current ruling party has some pretty funny ideas about internet privacy [1][2]. So it kinda scares me that Fastmail is based there.

That said, I'm currently using Fastmail since switching to it from Gmail a few months ago. The service itself is excellent. As far as I can tell, they don't seem to actively scan the contents of your email to build a profile on you like Google does [3]. So, at least for now, there's that.

[1]: https://www.cyberscoop.com/australia-encryption-backdoors-la... [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Austral... [3]: https://www.fastmail.com/about/privacy.html#sharing

> they don't seem to actively scan the contents of your email to build a profile on you like Google does [3]. So, at least for now, there's that.

I thought G stopped doing that for mail?

Google parses and collects purchase history (purchases, subscriptions, reservations) from Gmail.

See https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/7673989, or go to https://myaccount.google.com/purchases, https://myaccount.google.com/reservations, https://myaccount.google.com/subscriptions.

"Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change." is what they said in places like https://blog.google/products/gmail/g-suite-gains-traction-in...

This does not say they will stop using the metadata for ad personalization.

I would love for someone to correct me on this one.

Really? That must be recent, because when I stopped using Gmail late-ish last year, it was still doing that kinda-cool-but-still-pretty-creepy thing of overlaying airline reservation information gleaned from emails onto Google Maps.

You'll still get the overlay but information from Gmail but aren't served ads anymore based on the contents. It changed somewhere in 2017 iirc.

Yup! I'm aware. I purchased their 3 year plan for 2 accounts using my own domain names.

> there's no chance of them releasing it without my knowledge down the line

That's not a guarantee. Companies can and do shut down accounts for inactivity, sometimes with no warning, e.g.:


I think like this - I don't only have to reject them, I have to let go. It's not just the usage, it's the perceived importance and dependency too.

That's true at the moment, but there's also no way to know what Google will decide to do with it in the future. Presumably if the account is deleted, it might not be possible to veto that decision in the future. Better safe than sorry, right?

Yeah, but they may also decide that OP's account is inactive, close it and release the address anyway, like Yahoo did.

I don't know how Yahoo went about it but Microsoft for example gave plenty of notice and announced that accounts that haven't been touched for X years will be recycled. When I'll make this move (soon) I will definitely squat the account even if I just end up scheduling sending a mail to myself once every X days.

In parallel I would keep an eye out for policy changes. Like when Google will inevitably tell me that in order for the service to stay free I have to provide a minimum amount of private data per month :D.

I would say that there is a difference between actively sitting on an email address and passively doing so or deactivating it.

To actively sit on the email I would leave in place all security alerts, 2FA, strong password, etc.

I would want to be alerted of any change in circumstance that affected that email.

If you deactivate, if you passively ignore communications, if you drop security... then you've taken the security of something that represented your online identity for a period of time, and essentially are being irresponsible about it.

Far better to just dial usage down, whilst dialling security up, and then to let it tell you if circumstances change.

That was true for Yahoo too. But only up to some point. Then they not only released deleted emails, but even emails that have not been used for a while.

That made me lose my Yahoo email to somebody else and caused all kinds of headaches.

I have just done the reverse process. I decided that with integrated Cloud Search (of Gmail, docs, sheets, calendar, Drive, etc.) that help me quickly find research notes, etc. on all devices, that I quit Fastmail (which is an excellent service!) and transitioned to a $10/month Google G Suite account. I find it well worth the money.

I still use DuckDuckGo and my once a month visit to Facebook is done with a container to avoid FB tracking. I also don’t use Google Analytics on my web sites (except for my blogger account, no way around that). Using Firefox containers for all separate browsing modes is the advice I give my family and friends. I do still use GCP because I like it better than AWS, but that is just a personal preference (AWS is also a great service).

"Starting on April 2, 2019, G Suite Basic Edition will increase by $1 (from $5 to $6 per user/month) and G Suite Business Edition will increase by $2 (from $10 to $12 per user/month), or the local currency equivalent where applicable. These increases will apply globally with local market adjustments for certain regions"

I have also de-Google-ified and it wasn't a very focused effort or a life goal.

Google's productivity apps win via their integration, but when judged individually the alternatives are better, at least for me.

E.g. if you use Google Drive it's hard to not use Gmail because the price of a G Suite Business subscription is really good, but then Google Drive's desktop client is a piece of shit that doesn't work. If you use Gmail it's hard to not use Chrome, because Gmail doesn't play very well with classic IMAP desktop clients and for the web UI the "offine email" feature is Chrome-only, plus Gmail's web interface is now really bloated and slow and by using it in Chrome it sucks the least, because Google doesn't give a crap about other browsers. If you're on G Suite, it's hard to not use Google Docs, it's great for collaborative editing, but compared with Microsoft Office it has performance issues and has missing features that makes it painful to use for serious stuff.

There are 3 products that are hard to replace:

1. Google Search can give better results, but usually DuckDuckGo does the job well; I switched to DDG after noticing ads following me on the web based on searches I did

2. Google Maps (and Waze) because they have really good real-time traffic information, otherwise the POIs are better in OpenStreetMaps in my country

3. YouTube which currently has no replacement if you're a consumer

I'm not a fanatic btw, if Youtube Premium would be available in my country, I would pay for it.

> [...] they have access to most of our web browsing via Google Chrome (62.5% market share – although given the amount of broken websites (some explicitly Chrome-only!) I’ve found since switching to Firefox, I believe this number may actually be higher)

Anecdotal, but I got in touch with a pretty popular newsletter hosting tool to tell them the charts on Firefox didn't render correctly, only to be told to use Chrome.

I’ve see the odd app / website like that, if it’s not OSS I give them the finger and move on (while politely suggesting they should offer non-google integrated options), if it is OSS I start by opening a feature / bug request (if there isn’t one already) and submit a MR if I’m able to (which often I’m not as I’m more experienced in the Ops and Sec space than I have development (understatement of the century)).

Ah, the good old days of "This site was built for IE6".

Google went this route as soon as Chrome gained non-negligible market share. The "Works better with chrome" native ads or outright blocking other user-agents.

For those who host their own email (read: use your own domain for incoming), I'd like to remind/raise awareness about using `.io` which had two pretty serious security incidents recently (<3 years). Last incident: https://thehackerblog.com/the-io-error-taking-control-of-all...

For anyone interested in more alternatives, https://switching.social is a well-written and maintained directory.

Good list, but the font on that site makes it almost unusable.

Should we start de-Googling our lifes after the monopolistic market share of smartphones? Most privacy violations exist in Android phones and personally there's no way I could give 1000$ for an Apple phone. If there was a trully open source mobile OS that could run on every mobile CPU with every necessary drivers we could actually build cheap phones without any software from Google. Imagine if phones were like desktops and you could grab a tiny motherboard stick some RAM, a CPU, a flash drive and you were ready to go.

Some privacy-conscious Gmail alternatives from Europe (I use them all):

  - Mailbox.org (DE), from 1€/month, basic custom domain, aliases possible
  - Posteo.de (DE), from 1€/month
  - Migadu.com (SUI), from 4€/month, run unlimited custom domains with very flexible settings (mailboxes, aliases, forwarding)

I'd think about the german providers again if I were you.

They are forced to gather data about you as well (https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Bundesverfassungsger...) and since the government is taking measures to further invade your privacy it's not that safe there anymore.

I've watched the changes of their laws over many years and I can tell you this: Germany is not the country of privacy love (anymore). Given a decade or two without any changes in this development they'll very likely become like China some day.

Privacy is not a virtue in itself but a tradeoff between saving individuals and their data and public security (i.e. not helping human traffickers by totally blocking law enforcement).

I continue to trust a country where privacy issues are discussed and ruled objectively at the highest court and where law enforcers can only obtain IP addresses for severe crimes - mentioned in the article: drug trading, illegal arms trading.

Germany is nowhere near China with a civil society so active that every privacy threatening action creates strong counter action (i.e. new Bavarian police law). No, civil society cannot prevent everything that the powerful state wants, but neither can state representatives do as they wish (unlike the CP in China).

These providers also don't sell my data as Google does, because I pay for the service. It still strikes a good balance for me.

Edit: replaced "they" with "state representatives"

FYI: The bavarian police law has passed though many people tried to stop it. That also happened with a lot of other laws throughout the last years.

On the other hand people also love stuff like AMZN echo and trust all information to their smartphones.

What's going to stop this development then? A miracle?

How do you know providers don't sell data? Did they tell you that or promise it somehow? :-D

The obvious conclusion of this development is that we need technical solutions which work without the consent of governments and without putting trust into private companies.

There's also mailcow that's popular in the self hosting crowd. Anyone use it and can share experience ? I'm a bit lazy to switch email since the other end of the mail is going to be gmail/outlook etc. anyway. So not much net gain.

I'm running mailcow for about a year now. So far so good, very little to no maintenance and the update process through the dockerized version is very easy. Using it with a few friends and 10 custom domains with wildcard addresses, no issues with the spam-filter either.

I'm only slightly worried if they ever abandon the project I'm out of luck maintaining it by myself. But since it's all based on standard software it's rather easy so switch to another solution I guess.

Does it have a decent mobile app with push notifications for important mails? That always seems to be where the other providers fall down...

What client you use is up to you. It's just a mail server. Any client that supports IMAP idle should work. I imagine k-9 will do fine.

IMAP idle doesn't really work on mobile devices anymore, because no recent version of Android or iOS allows apps to keep the radio alive with persistent TCP connections - you need something that supports APNS and GCM, converting every notification into an HTTP Post request to Apple or Google or another notification provider.

So far, there seems to be no standard extension to IMAP to integrate with those, so you need some app which has a server side component to do it. (Which is exactly what Gmail, Outlook, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc. all do).

k-9 works fine for me without gcm. So at least on latest aosp, it appears that imap idle is all that it needs. Also, signal, whatsapp and telegram work without gcm as well.

Edit: I don't remember if I had to whitelist k-9 under battery optimisations. Maybe that's a requirement to use notifications without gcm, as it's a common theme in all apps that support notifications without gcm. On Apple devices, you will be generally out of luck, but that's a foregone conclusion.

Great addition, from a quick trial I can say the admin interface is easy to use and has all settings you need as a manager of multiple users and domains.

A genuine question, how do you tell they are really better than Google?

Mailbox and Posteo do have transparency reports (https://mailbox.org/de/pressemitteilung-transparenzbericht-2... and https://posteo.de/site/transparenzbericht). Both also support privacy groups via donations (https://mailbox.org/de/post/mailbox-org-spenden-2018 and https://posteo.de/site/wirunterstuetzen). Posteo also hosts privacy related events (https://posteo.de/lab/).

1. Their revenue comes from the users, i.e. they are not the product.

2. Compare the privacy policy of Google and these companies.

I switched to Fastmail from Gmail years ago. In the beginning I missed the tagging when I went back to a folder structure, but you get used to it. Other then that, I'm super happy and can only recommend the service.

Labelling is definitely something that I miss from Gmail; I live without it at FastMail, but I and a few others of us in the company would really like it. Fortunately, we’ve established the technical foundation for supporting labelling with JMAP, which can work with both folders and labelling; I have no timeline (I don’t think it’s on a concrete scheduled roadmap yet), but we are planning on supporting labelling as an alternative to folders.

Labelling was put into gmail and other google services because directories were too hard to implement and labels were seen as an easier approach.

A single table in a database mapping labelName to documentId can implement labels with no extra constraints, and it scales really well.

Put an index on labelName and you can easily list all documents with a given label. Put an index on documentId and you can easily list all labels a document has.

I don't understand why other providers go to the significant extra effort of trying to implement directories.

The largest issue with labels is that it isn't standards compliant. Gmail does some absolutely weird crud at the boundaries of anything not Gmail, such as IMAP or your Takeout export, neither of which understands labels.

FastMail's choice to wait until a new standard that supports it is available is a strong choice towards interoperability and standards.

Gmail was launched in 2004, and now 15 years later, the standards haven't caught up with something to support a widely used feature...

Our standards haven't meaningfully changed in over 15 years, JMAP may be the first good attempt at doing so.

I wouldn't say labels are widely used, Gmail is still really the only provider doing them I know of. It's just that that one provider is a monopoly.

An issue with fastmail folders is that you can't easily create or move them around in the structure without entering a settings page. Same with creating rules for folders, that's on a whole different page. This part of the system could really use some attention from their developers.

I am doing the same. Chrome was the hardest move but Safari got much better recently and 90% of the websites are working perfectly only few exceptions. Has anybody tried Amazon Workmail yet? I would be interested in the experience.

If the point is to get away from large, data hungry corps than going to Amazon would be a funny choice.

I agree, I'd rather suggest FastMail or even ProtonMail which has paid offerings. At least they make a profit from you paying for their services (at least in regards to FastMail).

Remind me again when Amazon was tracking me on every single website what I am visiting. Amazon's business is not primarily driven by ads and massive data collection. Google is an ad company with some distraction products like Android and Gmail so that they can collect more data and track you better. Amazon's revenue comes from the web store by selling goods and from AWS providing IT cloud services. I am not sure how could you equate Google and Amazon.

Amazon is in the ad-biz and they're already near the top of the pile [0]. They're in the silent data gathering phase. All the data they have from 1) eCommerce 2) device like Firestick/kindle/alexa 3) apps like Audible 4) retail (wholefoods) and all their other operations can be combined (if not already governed by a single privacy policy) to leapfrog any competitor.

As you say, they are not dependent on their ad business, but they are making a lot of money from it. Expanding operations to improve profits is a no-brainer and they can existing distribution networks like AWS to have an extra edge.

[0 ]https://digiday.com/marketing/amazon-ad-revenue-2-2b-132-per...

I am not really sure if you are serious or not but Amazon would love to have the data Google has access to. They are suggesting you stuff based on everything you do, and suggestions only become more accurate if they have all your data.

If you host your email with Amazon WorkMail they have access to all your emails just like Gmail or G Suite does.

At least it's a different one, and at least Amazon typically offers a straightforward exchange of money-for-service/product, as opposed to directly monetizing surveillance.

Amazon recently launched a Ad Network...


I'm not saying Amazon is great, but I'd rather there was at least competition instead of one giant company monopolizing every service I use online.


...and moving from one company to another with the same vision is a silly idea? Pretty obvious...

With AWS services you can encrypt everything with your own keys etc. how cool is that? You also get the option to select a region where to store your data.

Your point is moot, sorry

...moving to another conglomerate being silly is definitely not a moot point.

> Chrome was the hardest move

Do you have some examples of websites that don't work with Firefox? I've never considered moving to Chrome, and I've never had a problem (at least not since the death of IE-only sites).

I don't know since I am using Safari.

Do you have examples of sites that do not work in Safari but do in Chrome, then?

I'm really happy with Amazon WorkMail. Only their webmail is unusable. Outlook works 10/10 though.

90%? That's very low if you ask me

What are your guys thoughts on using Android? I really do prefer it to iOS, but the urge to de-Google has me seconding guessing my OS choice. I've thought about using LineageOS or something, but from what I understand is many people do not like using it without Google Play services enabled.

I had the same thought. I guess it depends on what one actually uses the phone for. For me at the moment that makes me (somewhat) tied to the play store, since the keyboard app I use and several language learning apps are play-store only (not on f-droid)

What keyboard app are you using? I should probably quit using Gboard, but its been the best I've tried.

I still use Android, because... pretty much the only viable options for smartphone OSes are Android and iOS. There are plenty dozens of phones running Android: Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, etc. And for iOS, well you only have iPhone.

I'd like to see more competitors in the game though: Firefox OS, Tizen, Sailfish OS, etc etc. So far, only Librem 5 looks promising. Hopefully it can gain much commercial and dev support.

I'm in the process to move Google and Facebook out of my life (to many privacy abuses). I now have my own email/domain (paid Fastmail account). This is a long process because I have my GMail email since the beginning of Gmail service.

On the phone side, I'm waiting for my pre-ordered "Librem 5" phone to replace my Google Pixel.

Look into microG, an open source play service alternative that's used alongside Lineage

Looks like it doesn't really have much implemented and what is implemented is likely buggy or limited https://github.com/microg/android_packages_apps_GmsCore/wiki...

core stuff should work - the goal is get off Google services, so you get bare minimum functionality.

More and more people are using Google docs instead of Ms office. How do you get away from having a Google account to edit a shared doc that another company or consultant had shared with you? Keep a dummy account just for these instances?

You might like Collabora Code. It is a online thin client of libreoffice hosted in a webpage with collaborative editing potential. It should be fine for small groups as the main limitation is memory consumption. OnlyOffice looks promising as the design goal is to work with msoffice formats natively. Onlyoffice is client side run so the server could have more Concurrent connections. OnlyOffice has a professional looking companion mobile app.

The problem at this time is the challenge of getting either solution to host but at this time there may be services that do that for you. Hosting yourself could give you peace of mind that vital files are strictly in your custody.

I have been working on a wizard installer for both with nextcloud but the release is still far off due to my quality concerns.

Another option is using your non Google provided email for a Google account. Given Google's huge reach I can certainly see the need for having a Google account for situations like you mention.

With wildcard aliasing offered by most email providers you can have that email address be anything you like, like googlesucks@your.domain.

It might kind of go against the whole de-googling depending on your outlook though.

> More and more people are using Google docs instead of Ms office.

Source? I haven't heard much about this space in a long time now, and due to that I get the feeling that it's kinda meandering.

Totally anecdotal. Should have been clearer on that. When we are working with a consultant or someone else in a sharing context, Google docs is practically assumed.

Google docs is the only semi-good real time-collaborative spreadsheet and word processor.

It isn't even very good, or have many features, but still seems to be the best.

In my opinion, the area is ripe for disruption, but I suspect nobody wants to spend their life re-reinventing the word processor in javascript.

Personally I switched to a mix of LibreOffice and Pages/Keynote and have been very happy with them. Google docs offers some awesome feature but I don’t think the privacy and ethics of using Google products justified its use and as of MS Office - I personally think that the software quality is terrible (Yes I know excel is powerful but there’s probably a better product or system for most of a spreadsheets solutions (but not all I’m sure)).

So what do you do if you have to collaborate using a gDoc?

I’ve never been asked or needed to.

If I did I guess I’d create a minimal google account with as little info as possible, ensure it’s security / privacy settings were set as restrictive as possible and then have to settle for using a Firefox container just for google sites (there’s a good pre-made on on the extensions site), you could go as far as also spoofing your user agent etc but that might just be more of a pain than it’s value.

Cool... Congratulation. This is a project for me as well, which started two months ago. Still moving the drive files and re-registering all accounts where I used @gmail.com and my domain email. It's a pain after 16years. Everyday something pops up which I didn't consider. I'm doing it with own server (hetzner) and protonmail.

I de-Googled completely a few years ago and it's nowhere near as difficult as people think.

The initial switching of accounts can be tedious, but it's a one-time job, and there are alternatives all all Google's services out there (some better than Google's offerings).

Personally the dreaded 'convenience hit' was temporary for me.

"If it's not open source, it's not safe" - Richard Stallman.

DuckDuckGo is not open source. DuckDuckGo says they don't track but you never know.

Let me give you a trivial example.

Bill Gates wrote the program for seat allocation for his school. He made sure girls he liked sat near him. If Bill Gates had to submit the source code, he could been caught. But he didn’t and his practice continues till date. https://www.businessinsider.in/Bill-Gates-and-Paul-Allen-hac...

I have migrated away from Google for personal stuff, except for Maps, and I've not found any alternatives for my use cases. I'm fine with Apple Maps or Waze for general navigation. But I also use Google Maps for two things.

(1) Keeping track of my saved places. These are split into a bunch of lists: Favourites, coffee shops, restaurants I want to try, general places I want to travel, etc. (Because Google Maps' place system is an afterthought, I also have to split it up by area: So I have "NYC coffee", "Berlin coffee", etc., otherwise the list view becomes impossible to use, ugh.) Apple Maps allows you save "favourites", but that's all. My ideal app would let me easily manage lists, add notes and photos and so on, and share the lists to collaborate with people, and group things like Google Map's little-known "My Maps" feature.

(2) Keeping location history. I just want the ability to see where I've been, going back forever, as a kind of automatic diary (where was I on July 4, 2016 again? Oh, that was that party). Google Maps is neat in that it magically figures out what transportation method you used to travel, and uses your saved places as a hint to figure out what location you were in at any given moment. I don't want Google to have this data, of course. There's an iOS app called Life Cycle which is pretty good (for example, it has a view showing all the countries you've been to), but it's not fine-grained enough. Day One, an actual diary app, only remembers your location history for 30 days or so.

Any tips?

I see people mention Waze frequently as a competitor or alternative to Google Maps. It's useful to remind people that Google also owns Waze, so it's really just another Google product.

build a memex (or help andrew build/release it): http://confreaks.tv/videos/rubyconf2018-building-a-memex-wit...

De-google-ify Internet: https://degooglisons-internet.org/en/

Even just that image made my day. Probably started as a sketch in someone's notebook, and I'm off to listen to "Bombtrack" now.


> explicitly Chrome-only

That’s a thing?! Web developers have already forgotten those ridiculous “Made for Internet Explorer” badges and the mess that caused? We won that fight! Wtf!

My main problem in getting away from Google is: who will protect my email/phone accounts as well as Google does with GMail and Google Voice? Sadly, those are the main means of authentication for my multiple financial accounts (for most banks phone and emails are the only 2FA methods available).

I am not worried about the privacy issues, I'm mostly worried about Google deciding to terminate my account for some reason. I'm also not worried about getting locked out due to losing my 2FA secrets, since I backup them in multiple places.

The obvious solution would be: buy my own domain and then connect it to another email provider or G Suite, right?

However, now I have a point of failure that is my domain registrar and my DNS provider, and I'm sure that even the ones that offer strong security (e.g. Gandi with U2F) are more prone to getting successfully hacked than @gmail.com, from both a technical point of view (e.g. attackers violating their systems and change the DNS records for my domain) and social engineering point of view (e.g. crafted support requests pretending to be me and begging to reset my 2FA).

He mentions a number of "de-Google" measures.

Here is one he omitted: What if those running websites stopped treating "Googlebot" as different from any other "bot"?

No more preferential treatment for Google.

What if websites made it as easy as possible for anyone to download/copy/create a webcache like Google's (or even just a small cache of a particular segment of the web that interests them).

Nothing would radically change and democratize the web faster. No need for every web user to use the same search engine, believing it has a superior cache. With preferential treatment removed, every search engine could have the same cache of the web's public information.

We could have a content-based web instead of a location-based one. There could be unlimited locations from which to retrieve any of the web's public content. ("CDNs" already hint at the effiencies of this approach.)

As another commenter points out, switching to DuckDuckGo is more or less switching to Bing, which one might argue is just a copy of the Google webcache (Microsoft did not build it from scratch).

I was doing my own, much lighter de-Googling, (also last week). I've been really impressed by the amount of control you get with Fastmail. You can add all the domains and aliases you want, including ones that forward to multiple addresses, the filtering rules are very useful, and everything feels much more transparent than Gmail.

I haven't moved all my stuff off Google, and I don't expect to, but I find it really interesting how straightforward it is to move PIM stuff to other services. Contacts, calendars and mail really haven't changed much over the years. There is some stuff missing, but it's refreshing being able to add features by choosing the right software (or, heck, fixing it myself) rather than hoping for Google's unlikely mercy.

(Granted, I found this notion harder to stomach until they killed Google Inbox, at which point it became clear they're going all in on not bothering).

> I’ve debated deleting the @gmail.com e-mail address, but I think it’s wiser to keep it and essentially squat the username lest someone else take it over and cause me trouble down the line.

No need. The google does not allow to register email addresses that was already deleted.

For now, and it's likely they won't change it, but if you hold onto the account at least you can be sure it won't go to someone else any time soon.

I submit that you did not, in fact, "de-Google" your computer usage. Not entirely at least. You may have reduced your usage of a handful of their core services, but until you're running every device you use through a tunnel that completely filters out their entire IP space like this person[1], you haven't truly discovered just how deep they have their tendrils into your every day Internet usage (fonts, analytics, ads, GCP, etc).

[1] - https://gizmodo.com/i-cut-google-out-of-my-life-it-screwed-u...

I'll recommend before deleting everything, download all your data, or at least everything that google have stored, you can do it here [1].

If you're in Europe you can apply the Right to be forgotten, implement that can be a real pain (data engineer here), link for the template[2].

[1]: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?hl=en [2]: https://gdpr.eu/right-to-erasure-request-form/

I think deGooglying is easy but less important than stop using Facebook services yourself. As in case of Facebook you have to make your family stop using Facebook services before it can really make an effect

I de googlified over a year ago, but just realised I was still serving some fonts for my site via google... I'm totally happy to be "mostly" google free now.

I still need my hit of youtube... :(

I de-Googled as much as possible last year. It was surprisingly painless as I already used custom domain. Gmail to Soverin, GFonts to self hosted, GA to Clicky, Drive to iCloud/iWork etc.

Haven't yet managed to give up Google Maps as I still don't fully trust Apple Maps for driving directions. Although the way GMaps refuses to save locations without search history turned on is seriously annoying, and a dark pattern to boot.

All other Google products, like YouTube, I refuse to use while signed in.

Does anyone have recommendations for a good, privacy-focused domain registrar? All of mine are on Google at the moment but I'd like to switch away.


/me: No affiliation with them.

Cloudflare, maybe?

> Why go through all this trouble? I’ve grown increasingly concerned this past year with how much access Google has to our lives. They are the world’s biggest advertising company and they have access to most of our web browsing

I come across this sentiment all the time, but serious question: why does this bother people?

Does anybody have practical examples of real harm being done that would have been prevented by deleting Google?

I wrote an article with some other ways to unGoogle [1]. I still intend to revisit Part II but self-hosted email kicked my ass. I'm open to suggestions though.

[1] https://www.honestrepair.net/index.php/2018/07/23/un-google-...

I almost finished de-google-fy my digital life as well, but I really can't fully leave Youtube, there is simply too much good content there.

I'm the same I heavily use the Watch Later feature, slap things in the queue then watch them on my telly alongside mty other media via Kodi with the YouTube plugin.

I guess one alternative would be having some kind of place I can chuck video links into and have them downloaded by youtube-dl then a metadata provider for Kodi to get everything nicely tagged.

Yeah, me too.

I put stuff in my watch later list during the day and then watch videos in the evening on my PC.

If you want to just avoid some of the tracking and logging, you could use an app like NewPipe which will stream only the video from youtube. I wonder if there's anything on the same lines for the PC.

I watch mostly from the PC (I'm old school I guess), so NewPipe does not work for me :/

There is! Check out invidio.us

I think the pendulum is slowly but surely on it's way back towards decentralization. More and more people are getting increasingly concerned about the explotative behavior and control these mega corps have. An enormous amount of progress still needs to be made in terms of viable alternatives, increased awareness by the general masses, and easier accesability for adoption.

Is there a service that will let you upload a video and then it cross posts it to your YouTube & PeerTube & Vimeo etc.? - similar to those apps that can cross-post a social media post to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

I like the idea of moving away from Google, but I also think it might be good (in terms of content) if you could post to many platforms instead of one.

How did you change the two factor authorization codes from Google Authenucator? I think they are needed for crypto sites like Kracken.

It's an open standard and many other apps support it. You just need to go to each service where you've set it up and redo it with your new app.

I'm now using OTP Auth in iOS, which allows backing up the codes. For me the risks in that are worth being able to easily restore my codes.

Alternatively, if you use GAuth on Android and you have root, you can backup them up and migrate them yourself (it's just an SQLite file).

I never used Google Authenticator. Instead, I use 1Password's 2FA functionality.

Don't you loose the benefit of 2FA then, an adversary only needs to obtain your 1Password password.

Not a great idea to combine your first factor and second factor in the same place.

Backup codes and then the protection is against illegal SMS porting which is a social engineering attack hard to otherwise defeat. Your phone is fulfilling a different function and yes it does collapse both factors onto one device but the primary risk wasn't loss of phone, it was weak password and no variant second factor and then porting attacks on SMS.

I didn't understand the point your are making. I'm referring to the overall attack surface area of apps like 1password (which I think also have browser extensions ?). TOTP is better than sms, but why put it in the same app as your password ?

You have to ask yourself what's the primary threat. Yes,the point in strong sense of a second factor is a fully independent test. But the actual threat it mostly protects against is credentials threats. Not loss of devices or compromise of a keystore. SMS as second factor is way way worse because of the porting problem. Otp inside 1password is a compromise but it protects against the primary threat.

If you crypt your disk and use a good passphrase or a long pin and passphrase on a phone you are not that badly exposed.

I too replaced Google Authenticator with 1Password, for much the same reasons. The Google Analytics tracker in 1Password is concerning though.

> I started by moving all of my websites off of Google App Engine and onto a dedicated box that I had already owned. That was straightforward enough.

That surprises me, that it was straightforward, I haven't used GAE for some time, but when I did it was python but with a custom ORM etc. - you couldn't just use anything.

It was easy for me because I had been using GAE as a fast/free static website host. None of the sites that I moved were dynamic.

>dedicated box

What kind of dedicated box are you referring to?

One of these: https://www.online.net/en/server-dedicated/pro-2-m-ssd . I had it for a while and wasn't using it for much.

While I admire the author's choice, individual actions, even when considered as a whole, are not going to fundamentally change things without regulation or other higher force pushing against a company's practices. Which has more of an effect - fuel efficiency standards or people choosing to buy a hybrid?

This is great to hear! I forget exactly where it was posted but a journalist attempted to do this and she was not as successful as you.

I started the process, but it’s going very slowly. Mostly because I didn’t want to leave Gmail. But since you mentioned the 1Password truck, I will try that. Great post!

I've moved all my stuff off of Google infrastructure...except YouTube. I tried using streaming services and the content just isn't there.

I really don't know how a company or system will be able to steal the traffic from YouTube...it seems like it's too big.

> I’ve made it forward and delete any new mail it gets to @defn.io

Deleting doesn't do much, by that time Google already gobbled up all they needed. You'll get the real benefit when the trickle of emails to that address dries up.

Does anyone have a good alternative to Google Maps? I recently purchased a Nexus 5X and installed LineagosOS with no Google Services. The one thing that I am having trouble with is finding a good navigation application.

Interesting enough for me, I degoogled around 2005. And just now I have to use their online office tools and mail. Its horrific experience. (1) gmail is ugly and unproductive- not even possible to attach another mail to an email, seriously? (2) Calendar - omg, what is this. Its clunky, invites are unreadable and difficult to parse. Want to send a quick note that you are running late? There is no mail integration with the calendar... (3) Sharing - everyone over shares documents, the UI encourages, sometimes even silently grants powerful permission to others. So people have access to things they shouldn't- this is a real security issue in my opinion. (4) list goes on...

I really never thought I would miss Microsoft Office, but GSuites really makes me miss Office.

1. This is easily done, both on free and gsuite (paid) depending on how you want to implement it. I have multiple Gmail accounts with dozens of emails attached to each. Multiple configuration options.

2. I've never used a calendar outside of Google, and avoid it where possible, but find Google's calendar easy.

3. I think this is a great feature. I use it to collaborate on tons of things, with the understanding that it's not 100% secure, and acting accordingly. Maybe it doesn't suit your particular use case... and that's fine. It doesn't mean it doesn't work great for other uses.

^ all of that considered, I still agree fully with the original article. I've taken a few steps to have working backups and have fallback plans but having an account closed would still be disastrous.

For me the hardest part is other accounts associated with an old email address. I’m also moving away from google, but it is tiring to change accounts associated with gmail address to a new one

Third party email services have an import feature and you can set up forwarding of all emails from Gmail to your new address.

That alone allows you to make a move today (from my experience, it takes less than an hour), and then you can move your accounts as you go one by one. You'll probably get rid of a bunch of accounts in the process as well.

When everyone in the comments mentions Gmail are you referring to @gmail.com switching or GSuite? Two different policies. Just curious why people don’t consider it an option.

I am making an open source alternative to Google news at http://www.condense.press

Bye bye Google Bye bye Facebook Bye bye private surveillance state by advertisement companies selling private information for profit

Your site is really performant Bogdanp. Mind me asking if you use a paid host or something like netlify?

Be very careful if you somehow lose your phone number... You might lose your Gmail account completely.

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