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How to leave Google and why (jach.me)
232 points by yaszko 44 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 142 comments

1. The title mentions only Google.

2. The article then talks about both Facebook and Google and links to some of Facebook's most egregious incidents like data sharing, Cambridge Analytica, WhatsApp.

3. The article then proceeds to tell you how to leave Google.

It just comes across in a bad way. Don't mix up the two companies - they aren't equivalent. And if you want to give advice on leaving Google, do that instead of this switcharoo that uses Facebook's scandals as a reason to leave Google.

I agree, Google is bad enough on its own, no need to compare. It gets less negative press compared to Facebook, probably because they managed their public relations better, but if you really look, you will find plenty of reasons not to share all your data with them.

(Having said that, Facebook is of course just as bad as Google if not worse)

> probably because they managed their public relations better

It's not only PR. Google haven't violated their users' privacy to the extent Facebook have, it's not even close.

Can you elaborate on how you made that conclusion?

At least on a standpoint of what ‘partners’ or ‘developers’ can access, Google hasn’t had a Cambridge Analytica scenario play out (that we know of) so all of the data they have gained via web tracking for the purpose of ads is securely stored in a Google silo.

I agree, but would like to remind you of the Google+ data scandal in 2018, which did not increase my confidence in Google's security measures.


> Within November 2018, another data breach was found within a Google+ API software update. The bug was fixed within a week and there was no evidence that any third party developer compromised the system.

Please explain how this is anywhere near the level of FB & CA?

> However, approximately 52.5 million non-public profile fields were exposed to alternative apps that requested access to individuals Google+ ID, and created access to other profiles that had shared information with each other.

It's not on the same level as CA but should remind you that even a corporation like Google can have such data breaches, regardless of whether they were gaps or poor design. The investigations were initiated only after the CA scandal. Would the gap have been discovered in time without CA? Who knows. Even if it is assumed that this gap was not exploited, 52 million affected users is not a small number.

I don't think it's comparable at all - the CA scandal wasn't something CA got access to via a bug. What CA had been doing, plenty of other companies had already been doing on Facebook's platform to maximize ad spend. CA was just first to apply it to agitprop. So yes, while Google did go back and make sure their APIs were cleaned up they never unofficially offered the functionality in the first place.

A great heuristic to show this is the article.

It's titled how to leave Google. It concludes with how to leave Google. But the vast majority of evidence it uses to justify leaving Google are Facebook privacy examples.

I suspect the author, who is clearly no Google fan, put some effort into looking at Google's privacy violations, but even then had to resort to pointing to FB's instead to beef up their article.

It's certainly possible that Google has hidden it better, but there is no evidence to suggest that FB does not have the same, or better talent, for that matter, to do the same.

Facebook isn't reading my email ...

Right, they don't. They just read your chats, your contact lists, get other peoples contact information without any consent or relation to Facebook at all and some other minor things like using your photos for ads of any kind or selling data to e.g. profiling companies.

I can avoid facebook completely, I can't avoid google.

Care to elaborate?

My previous post had an argument about how you can't avoid Facebook, as someone who uses Facebook probably already shared your contact information from their phone with them without you knowing anything about it.

Anybody using an android device will help Google aggregate data about you because as soon as your details are added to the contacts app those will be cross-referenced with other data Google has about you.

That’s exactly how Google ended up in possession on my mobile phone number in relation to my mail address: A friend added the same e-email address I use for YouTube to my android contact, which also included my phone number.

His android contacts app then proceeded to use my YouTube profile picture for my contact with my phone number.

Unlike iOS, Android lets you choose which contacts app to use and does not require you to log into any accounts at all to use the phone. You seem to be transferring what you know about iOS to Android when that does not transfer at all.

> Android lets you choose which contacts app to use

How many people actually go trough the trouble of getting a third party contacts app?

> does not require you to log into any accounts at all to use the phone

That still doesn't stop Google from processing the data that people enter. Just like the fact that even without logging into an Google account there's a ton of unique identifies to track just baked into phone hardware alone.

> You seem to be transferring what you know about iOS to Android when that does not transfer at all.

I'm not "transferring" anything, nor did anything similar happen in the 10+ years I've been using iOS phones.

None of my iPhones contact apps ever pulled account details from other Apple services to populate the phone contact with. Yet on my friends Android phone all he had to do was enter my phone number and the same e-mail address I used to register a YouTube account, and Google matched and linked those two together to populate the contact with my YouTube profile picture.

Which means that somewhere in the massive Google database these two identifiers will now be linked, even tho I specifically went out of my way not to give Google my mobile number.

> How many people actually go trough the trouble of getting a third party contacts app?

100% of the users who don't want to give their contacts to Google. You're right that the Google contacts app provides a far superior experience to the iOS contacts app, so most users who don't care about providing their data will use that if it's the default.

> That still doesn't stop Google from processing the data that people enter.

But how will Google get the contact information? The fact remains that iOS requires the user to log into an Apple account. iOS requires users to tell Apple all the apps they run and ties that information to their Apple account. iOS requires that anybody who wants to get their location also send their location to Apple. Android does none of these.

> Yet on my friends Android phone all he had to do was enter my phone number and the same e-mail address I used to register a YouTube account, and Google matched and linked those two together to populate the contact with my YouTube profile picture.

This is called contact merging, which Google's contacts app does far better than iOS's. iOS is a far less usable platform with far more unavoidable privacy invasions.

Not to mention all the 3rd parties that put facebook trackers on their websites.

I'll grant you that Google haven't been caught violating their users' privacy to the same extent, but the rest of your statement is hollow conjecture.

The article seems to use examples of undeniably bad things Facebook has done to extrapolate to google, without providing any concrete examples.

Stating that FB/G use your data to provide targeted ads isn’t an inherently bad thing: it’s part of the arithmetic of getting incredibly useful tools for free. I’d argue the key piece is what types of ads, and the methods behind delivery are crucial. That isn’t mentioned at all.

I recently closed my Google account after a few months of an automated message informing anyone that the address would be closed soon (using the "Vacation responder" functionality from Gmail settings). In the meantime, I started using my new email address for all my online accounts and I passed it on to all my contacts. Another thing I did, was to download all my Google data (I saved the archives on my NAS at home and on my Nextcloud instance on Digitalocean).

Since then, the only time I needed a Google account was when someone wanted to collaborate on a Google Docs file. I created a "burner" temporary account for that, which I subsequently closed.

Every now and then I might watch something on Youtube, but I never really need to be logged in.

It's funny because before closing my Google account, I imagined it would have been so hard, when if fact it was quite uneventful.

During the last 12 months I also closed Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It feels really good. I don't waste time during the day, I'm more focused during working hours and after work I have more time to do whatever I really like doing (as opposed to wasting time watching someone else doing those things on Youtube or Instagram).

What did you end up using for email?

Not the parent, but I switched to Fastmail. It was the only one that provided large enough storage quotas for my Gmail inbox at a reasonable price. 5€/month for 30GB of storage + domain aliases + native iOS application.

Protonmail is SuperSecure and all that, but they only have 5GB of storage and for the 4€/month account, getting it close to 30GB would be 6x that. (The quota was much lower when I evaluated the services around 4-5 years ago)

Big +1 on fastmail.

However, the big upside is that I have my own domain now, so if I need to migrate to something else (be it self-hosted or another provider) I can easily do so without losing all my contacts.

Exactly, I've got a filter in Fastmail that collects mail that's still delivered to my old @gmail.com account (I still have forwarding there).

When I get bored, I wade through it and either change the address to my current one (with my own domain) or unsubscribe.

I also switched to Fastmail 6 months ago, and I'm content. It's not bad, but the UX is nowhere near Gmail. I didn't understand how useful was automatic email classification (Updates/Promotions/etc.) until I stopped using it.

I've made the same switch and had the same thought. In response I just unsubscribed aggressively from most everything. Much cleaner mailbox now, and I really never took any action on almost any promotional/update style email anyway, so less noise overall than Gmail now. It's actually been a good switch.

Not sure if Fastmail's filtering is as extensive as ProtonMail, but it seems there are several common headers that do a fairly good job of sorting emails into types. ProtonMail suggests filtering based on these headers[0].

For updates, I've got a filter based on substrings in the subject like "receipt", "invoice", "latest bill" which does fairly well at catching that transactional type of email.

It definitely takes more time than Google's implementation, but in curating the filters myself I've found I've been left with a cleaner, more organised inbox.

[0] https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/sieve-advanced...

I know it's not the same, but after going on an unsubscription drive, I've had pretty good success with simple address-based rules to move new mail to folders.

I also switched to Fastmail and love it. Is their iOS app really native? It's my only real gripe with the service - I find it has a web/hybrid app feel to it. The components don't feel native, and I find their table row swiping gesture to be a bit flaky.

"Native" as in "not limited to just a web UI". Not sure about the underlying tech stack.

I'm using my own instance of mail-in-a-box, of course this is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, because you basically become your own admin. But personally I enjoy doing that, and the maintenance required is really minimal.

If you are looking for cloud/managed alternatives you can have a look at the list here https://degoogle.jmoore.dev/

i am interested in mailinabox. i think next month i am going to take the plunge but i need a webmail. my question, how much of a vps server do you need to set one up? 1Gb ram for miab+roundcube? any better foss webmail like roundcube or squirrelmail? also, have you looked into oracle always free ? would that work?

Regarding the VPS: It requires 512 MB RAM minimum, but 1 GB is recommended, that would be e.g. the $10/month Digitalocean VPS. MIAB will do automated backups of everything that's on the machine, this means that it will use more than double the space on disk (compared to just the space that it would be required to store your email + attachments), that's if you choose to store the backups on local disk (but why would you?). The alternatives are either not doing backups (bad!) or storing backups on a different machine using rsync, or on an S3 bucket. Personally I use DigitalOcean Spaces which is S3 compatible, and I store backups from the last 3 days. The Spaces bucket was an additional $5 in my Digitalocean bill. So you should consider the backup storage cost as well.

Regarding webmail: MIAB includes Roundcube by default, which is OK on desktop but basically unusable on mobile, so on mobile I just use the built in client that came with my iPhone.

Of course you can use whatever webmail client you prefer, you just install it on a different VPS though (because MIAB will pretty much take over the whole VPS for itself; the only thing you can have alongside it on the same VPS, is a purely static website).

MIAB also includes Nextcloud [ * ] where you can add an alternative webmail client [1]. In order to install that client you need to unlock the nextcloud admin by executing a script that is included in MIAB [2].

[*](in MIAB, Nextcloud is intended to manage calendar+contacts but you can also use it to store files or as an additional webmail client, even though those two use cases are not officially supported by the MIAB devs; this means that, if you have an issue related to storage or webmail, you should seek help from the Nextcloud community, not from the MIAB forums).

[1] https://apps.nextcloud.com/apps/mail

[2] https://github.com/mail-in-a-box/mailinabox/blob/master/tool...

oh. i don't need contacts or calendar. just plain vanilla email with a webmail. i think any client on fdroid should work for mobile. backups are interesting and important really. vultr "seems" cheaper. will have to investigate

Take a look at Mailcow too. I've been using it for more than a year now (was using Redmail before). It works pretty well, incuding the Spam filters.

Porkbun: email for $24/year + domain registration

Be careful with Google Takeout. I've found empty archives in there. Sometimes redownloading fixes it, sometimes not. (My chat messages from <2019 are permagone it seems)

I really disagree with the Why of this article.

I think there are good reasons to move away, or at least consider reducing dependence on Google, and the last point about the change in Google Photos policy hints at that (but even there it creates a kind of conspiracy theory where none is needed).

For me, the Whys would be:

1) Far too much dependence on Google. It's probably not a good thing to have so much dependence on any single entity if its avoidable.

2) Google is extremely unreliable in maintaining their services. We have all seen them randomly discontinue services, even successful ones, because their standards for success are also Google scale. This means that anything you're using is at risk of being discontinued and forcing you to find an alternative in a rush, as opposed to doing it ahead of time when you can pick the time and choosing of finding the alternative.

3) Constantly changing UX. Based on HN comments, it appears Google has an internal culture that rewards constant churn. PErsonally, for example, Google Maps has always been untouchable for me. Until their UI changes have started hiding so much data, that just this weekend, it was almost impossible for me to find the address to a destination so I could enter it in my rental car's Nav system. After a few minutes of fumbling around I switched to Apple Maps, for the first time ever, where it was trivial.

Think your points broadly cover the consensus. I usually refer to [0] for people looking to alternatives though [1] was pointed out to me on here which also looks good and breaks the choices down by operating system.

[0] https://degoogle.jmoore.dev/

[1] https://prism-break.org

I switched my main email account to protonmail a few months ago. Feels like a weight is off my shoulders. Aside from how invasive the company is, the layout is just illogical for me especially when replying and forwarding. Its also been getting progressively slower.

One of Google's largest PR mistakes has been not distancing itself more aggressively from Facebook. Everywhere I look I see criticisms of these 2 companies together being poor stewards of user data but almost all the articles focus on Facebook's track record.

I'm not saying Google is completely clean in this regard but it has never had breaches of data or trust that even compares to Facebook's. In this article for example, they can point to Cambridge Analytica for Facebook (which was bad IMO) and can point to Google Photos charging for high quality photos (uh... what?)

Even when it comes to government surveillance, Google was the first to release the transparency reports and from my understanding, even when requested to keep requests from data for law enforcement they'll often push back and notify the owners of the accounts when their data was requested and delivered to their government (according to a few lawyers I've spoken to which have had experience with Google provided data).

I was expecting this to be an article about leaving Google as an employee. The daily "You are at Google!"-elitist chatting makes you feel kind cool at first, but after two years you just get sick of hearing it and it becomes unbearable. (YMMV, I suppose it's not the same at all locations or within all departments ...)

Regarding the article: The "Why?" paragraph talks about a lot of things, but not why you should quit using Google. If anything it tells you why you should quit using Facebook/Whatsapp. If the argument is "Facebook is bad, so Google must be bad" you might as well stop using the internet all together right now, as this can be applied to basically any other service provider of any kind.

How to leave Google as a developer, the easy way:

1. Any time Google deprecates a service/library you're using or breaks it with backwards-incompatible changes, move to a non-Google equivalent.

2. Don't adopt any new Google services/libraries.

And viola, before you know it you'll be Google free.

That sounds nice but this approach is unlikely to ever get me off Search, Gmail, Android, Maps, and Chrome and those are also the ones that likely give them the most info about me.

It might work for some of those:

Maps - They massively hiked API prices a couple years ago, literally by orders of magnitude (a kind of breaking change?). They've also broken a bunch of user-facing features and made it slower; it seems a common complaint here that maps now is a worse product than it was 5 years ago.

Search - They seem to have gone all-in on AI, and I've seen a lot of people complaining here that it's now harder to find things than it used to be. Precise queries also no longer work (searching for an exact phrase), a kind of breaking change. They also do a lot more human curation than the competitors, which some would consider a breaking change compared to the past. Even their automated, user-profiling-based curation is a breaking change to how Google originally worked.

Android - If you don't upgrade your Android phone, but do upgrade your OS, you'll find it gets slower and slower, as newer versions consume more and more resources. This is a kind of breaking change, if you don't want to buy a new phone.

Not the person you replied to, but I have also noticed that sometimes it doesn't work and still give the usual SEO bullshit results. I don't remember exactly what I was searching unfortunately.

If you see this (a quoted precise query that doesn't search as precise, without a disclaimer at the top), can you send me the query? I'd like to look into it if it's not just returning zero results and falling back to a non-precise query.

So what would the solution for Android phone be? Buy a new Android phone or buy an iPhone? They are very similar from the perspective of your data being owned by the phone OS maker.

I thought one of the big selling points of IPhone vs Android was greater privacy protection, and the fact that Apple's business model isn't based around selling user data? There's also the possibility to use a de-Googlified version of Android like https://lineageos.org/.

After extensive research, this was ultimately my conclusion: Going iOS. My rationale was that it is significantly easier to de-Google an iPhone then it is to de-Google and android phone. I can also lock down an iPhone more easily (Disabling iCloud, using DNSCloak, etc).

There are plenty of projects that aim to remove Google from an android, but I question their security; even if the privacy is good, there could be exploits or unpatched vulnerabilities.

This comes with a price: the cheapest iPhone SE costs 3-4 times more than a new low end Android phone and 2 times more than a decent Android phone. An iPhone 12 is more than the average monthly pay, so in price-sensitive markets (or price-sensible in the common sense way) going iOS is out of reach for most people.

On the other hand, you can buy a used, working iPhone for less than a new low-end Android.

There are a few linux phones now. None are ready for prime time yet, but all are close. Contribute to development (either by writing code, or just funding it) and they will be sooner. I'm excited about the pinephone, but there are a few others.

Try an open-source linux phone?

3. Goto 1

Or you'll be stuck with broken services.

Fortunately the cost of migrating to a competitor is often not much greater than the cost of migrating to Google's newer offering, e.g. Tensorflow->Tensorflow2 vs Tensorflow->Pytorch, or Angular->Angular2 vs Angular->React.

Angular -> React, presumably.

Good catch thanks, fixed that now.

except React == Facebook so you want Vue instead :)

Author missed a spot, still using fonts by Google, and their MX.

haha, good spot !

oops :))

There are a lot of great services coming out of both Facebook and Google. Why on Earth is the seemingly most popular solution to "cancel" them? That is such a waste.

I firmly believe the best remedies are regulation (to protect privacy) and breaking up monopolies.

It is because their size and monopoly position makes then threatening of course. I imagine they will be less threatening after getting broken up but so far there's little evidence that will actually happen.

I'd say it's realistic at this point to just assume they will stay unregulated monopolies and protect yourself as much as you can. It's not like it's even possible to actually "cancel" companies like this, that's just silly.

One of the biggest problems is probably that there's almost no way of using an android phone and purchase apps without a google account (which will be then linked to purchases and activities).

This isn't true.

There's two caveats: (a) it's a little unstable with no Google account but using a throwaway Google account fixes this, and (b) it doesn't get you away from Google because they still have a lot of ways to track you in Android without an account, but...

You can disable Play services and install Aurora Store from F-Droid and have a very reasonable Android experience with no Google account.

Aurora Store is a Play Store client that doesn't require a Google account, so you can get access to all the "normal" commercial apps and games that are absent on F-Droid. The developers use a central account for API access which can get rate limited and get blocked sometimes (they recommend you sign in with your own throwaway Google account to avoid this), but otherwise it's better than Play Store in many ways.

Some apps will not work without Play services but I've found that in most cases it's either a matter of:

- some annoying notification function of the app doesn't work but the rest of the app works fine

- in some rare cases, apps with a strong reliance on Play services have alternative independent builds available as apk from their own website

You can also just leave Play services enabled and simply never log into your Google account (the Aurora account login is separate, it doesn't link into the rest of the device) BUT if you do this Google will plague you with prompts to login for all eternity.

> just use iPhone, FDroid or a dumb phone, duh

Honestly, we need a optimised non-custom rom alternative to smartphone operating systems, which is not iOS or google/android.

While the custom-rom development has come a long way, it's to fiddly, often lacks long-term support, shortcomings in terms of stability (network/singal disruptions, battery usage, crashes, bricks)and even privacy.

The 2005's rang, they want their phones back. My Sony Ericsson 500i was my edgy love of my teenage college years. Every provider had their own phone with their own firmware. Android appeared and nearly-all of them got in to bed with Google.

And so here we are, living in a world of a million different sized rectangles; all running Android.

> Honestly, we need a optimised non-custom rom alternative to smartphone operating systems, which is not iOS or google/android.

Symbian was way ahead for its time. But I'm just glad we have some developments such as PinePhone and Librem

Symbian was not it.

Meego was it.

Nokia messed up by not actually sharing it properly like the Android Alliance or whatever it was called did.

Nokia went under and Android is everywhere :-(

I still have a running specimen of N9 in my drawer. They killed own future when they stopped Meego development.

Using is possible with microG [1], but it’s not stable yet and purchasing is indeed very rarely possible (the only Android App I have bought outside the playstore is Titanium Backup)

[1]: https://microg.org/

https://e.foundation/ is an Android/Lineage fork that removes Google services. It comes with its own app store (mix of F-Droid and Play store APKs, from what I can tell)

It's not perfect, but works well enough for daily use in my experience.

There are many Huawei devices being sold in my region which are completely Google free - and they have apps.

So it seems it's possible?

(Not to mention many deGoogled Android builds like Lineage which, ironically, usually run best on Google phones due to their published sources).

>One of the biggest problems is probably that there's almost no way of using an android phone and purchase apps without a google account

Get an iPhone then? Or a feature-phone?

Maybe try FDroid?

Google is so much involved in our life, it is very difficult to just leave google but you can still minimize their activity tracking. This is what I am following from a long time:

1. Already deleted FB and Instagram account. When I came to know different sites also sends your activity data to FB. Deleting Whatsapp is in process and thanks to FB for opening about the privacy policy now many are moving to different channel.

2. Not using Chrome browser. Using Brave/Edge which are using the same chromium engines and are very Fast. Also I use Firefox for its container tabs feature. Personal stuff in Firefox tabs and rest on Brave.

3. I am using VPN, browser extension are also available, I keep my gmail account in a separate browser container tabs.

4. Tried DuckDuckGo for sometime but results are not good as Google, so I am using google search in separate tab where my account is not logged in.

5. Same with youtube, opening in different tab and without logging in.

6. Turned off timeline history in google maps.

7. Stopped using Google Home.

8. Planning to move from Android to _____ whichever is much safer. This is where I think doing all above won't make any sense as long as I am using Android. Believe I am using my phone in a restricted mode. :d

After doing all this, I still think they can track my activity. Haha... But I am trying to make it little difficult to connect the dots.

P.S: I do like Google as a developers company.

>4. Tried DuckDuckGo for sometime but results are not good as Google

DDG's results have gotten comically bad, unfortunately. xD It used to be unusable for code stuff, but the unusability's getting more generalized. Still, you're just a "g!" away in the search query from Google results.

>8. Planning to move from Android to _____

Usable Linux phones when ;3;

(There's Librem 5 and PinePhone, but...)

It hasn't been even 1 day since a nearly identical thread was on the front page: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25823645

And I'm pretty sure we're averaging at least a few of these per week.

It's like a template for getting clicks to their site

> Some people say "I have nothing to hide, I don't care" which is essentialy [sic] ignoring basic human right and making this right worthless to you and very precious to others.

As ever, this isn't to do with rights. The government isn't forcing you to do this. Neither is Google.

Human rights as a concept exist outside of the US Constitution. Just because something isn't illegal (in the US) doesn't mean it's not morally wrong or something you should not encourage.

Morals and things worth encouraging are not the same as rights in any country (you mentioned the US for some reason, but could be any).

Human rights exist regardless of the laws of any country. I said US because "the Bill of Rights only constrain government actions" (which is what GP was saying with slightly different phrasing) is a very common talking point from American libertarians. I said "morals and things worth encouraging" to avoid using obvious examples of human rights (to avoid side-tracking the conversation) but okay here are some examples:

Slavery is an obvious and unquestionable violation of a person's human rights -- and that is a true statement regardless of the fact it was not illegal in many countries until the late-1800s (it was a violation of their human rights at the time as well). Same goes for the right to vote -- or if you prefer the right to self-governance -- which was not given to women and minorities until the mid-to-late 1900s. The fact that laws did not grant these people their rights doesn't mean their rights did not exist.

In addition it should be obvious that rights can be taken away by someone who is not an agent of a government. If you enslave someone it is a violation of their human rights regardless of whether it was sanctioned by a government. So (hopefully this was already self-evident) human rights also exist outside of government action.

That was the point I was making.

> Some people say "I have nothing to hide, I don't care" which is essentialy ignoring basic human right and making this right worthless to you and very precious to others.

This doesn't make much sense, but I think I get the idea.

What most people mean when they say this is "the value I get out is worth more than the data I put in". And that's a perfectly valid view.

> "the value I get out is worth more than the data I put in". And that's a perfectly valid view.

Sure. But that is only a valid view if the seller of services is transparent about the price.

Currently, I have absolutely no idea what I am paying to use Google.

Don't delete your account, that means giving up control over it. Never log in.

From the title, I initially thought that the author was a Google employee, and explained how to leave Google (is it that difficult?) :D

I know a more than one that have been struggling with it so apparently yes.

I once got lost in the wetlands behind the Mountain View campus whilst trying to find an off-road bike route to Stanford and just ended up back where I started, but muddier. This is a probably a metaphor for something.

> is it that difficult?

That sweet paycheck tho.

Industry term is "golden handcuffs".

How many times do you google something? 100 times per day? 200? I'm certainly in that neighborhood on most days. If the search results are even just slightly worse, say costing a second more to scan, or - worse - you spend time visiting irrelevant results before finding what you are after, that's an enormous time sink.

Throwing out any other google service but search is easy. Yet there is basically nothing that google can do in terms of business practices, that would make me go "that's it, I'll just have to settle for these worse search results". So while I usually tend to argue the importance of integrity, it turns out I'm not ready to give up even a few minutes every day for this cause.

I suggest giving Searx[1] a try.

It returns search results from most search engines, it's highly configurable and trivial to self host. There are some hiccups here and there, but it's well maintained and issues are quickly resolved.

Besides the combined search results, a big positive for me is having a simple and consistent UI, free of A/B tests, ads or the concern that it may change some day because some overpaid design team discovered a change that maximizes engagement.

[1]: https://searx.me/

I 'google' stuff on DuckDuckGo about that many times a day maybe, yeah. Have done for years, it wasn't an issue when I switched and it isn't an issue now.

I use Duckduckgo for most searches, and when it doesn't cut it, I add !sp at the end of the search - this will instruct Duckduckgo to redirect me to that same search on Startpage. Startpage uses Google results without passing your own personal data on to Google (or at least that's what they claim). It's like a proxied version of Google search.

I would use DDG if they added a "!g" button at the bottom of their first results page.

Nice idea for a browser extension, actually. HN, make it happen, I'd happily use it! (I'm too lazy or busy too do it myself)

You can use '?' to edit the search input. So you can type your initial query, scroll down using the arrow keys, and if you're not happy by the end of the page, use '?' and append !g.

How many times do you need to tap the screen to accomplish that on mobile?

Try startpage, it uses google results, but with no tracking whatsoever

I'd love to leave!

As soon as someone comes up with a half decent hosted calendar service that's half as good as Google Calendar.

People like to give GCal a lot of shit while comparing it with local apps; there's very few hosted services that are so versatile.

What do you need in a calendar service that you can't find elsewhere?

I use the Calendar app with NextCloud[0] for a CalDAV server + calendar web interface. It's fully-featured as far as I can tell. I use its CalDAV functionality to sync to my Android phone using DAVx^5[1], which integrates the calendars natively so that you can use whatever calendar app you want on your phone (I use Etar[2]).

[0] https://apps.nextcloud.com/apps/calendar

[1] https://www.davx5.com/

[2] https://github.com/Etar-Group/Etar-Calendar

Okay! What if I can't run my own nextcloud server? I need a consumer solution - a non technical way of making things work.

Ah, gotcha. There are hosted Nextcloud solutions out there if you can't run your own instance. I've never used them and can't speak to how non-technical the overall process is (I'd guess it varies by provider).

Nextcloud's website does have a page on getting ("free"?) accounts from providers. It took me a hot second to find the "change provider" link, but that allows you to see a bunch of options.


I'm working on https://lightpad.ai, which includes a timeflow calendar. Many features from GCal are missing though. If you can give it a shot and a hit me with a critical review – this could push me in the right direction.

I'm set on going towards privacy/transparency/local-first-data.

I'll take a look.

Well, there is Microsoft and the whole online Outlook stuff that comes with every Microsoft/OneDrive account ...

If the reason people are leaving privacy, Microsoft doesn't fare much better.

If it helps any, Feedly accepts YouTube channels as valid URLs for feeds. Getting YouTube in an RSS reader is great; now I can keep videos for later simply by keeping them unread, rather than whatever Google's latest UI is.

Related previous discussion with many good points: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25823645

I think Google has been trying much, much harder than Facebook to prevent breaches, so it's annoying to see them use Cambridge Analytica (a FB scandal!) as a reason to ditch Google.

I've read many stupid posts about de-googling for various reasons. Mostly by people who also want me to follow them on social media platforms, whose data collection obviously doesn't matter, because...

But this one really amazes me:

> Recently Google changed their policy for storing photos. Starting from July 2021 you won't have unlimited High Quality storage as before rather than 15GB limit. This is still okay in terms of space but the politics behind it is just disgusting. Google was effectively feeding it's photo AI algorithms for face detection and tagging for years now using user data obtained by giving up the service for free. Now when these algorithms got so good and it's almost impossible to make them better and Google don't need users anymore they switched to make some money from the service.

This guy is salty that Google doesn't provide their platform for free. Aside from that, of course, some ramblings about privacy and stuff. But seriously, complaining for not getting something for free. The entitlement is strong here. I'd go as far and use the author's words here and say it's disgusting. And the privacy arguments are BS, just look at those pretty Google Fonts he uses to tell you how bad Google is.

I am moving away from Google also. But not because I don't want to pay. I have been paying Google for services for several years. I am moving away because Google services are lame.

For example Google Music was closed. Google moved my playlist to Google YouTube Music without keeping order of songs and loosing a lots of them in the process. Replacing my songs with completely different ones. I was paying for that "service" and got screwed by Google.

Another example is Google Photos. It does not have basic functionalities expected from a service to store photos. I can not easily organize my photos in folders because of whatever reason Google decided. But the thing that me decide is that after carefully choosing 1500 photos to move to a "separate" folder, it told me I can not move that many photos at once.

Google services are lame. I'd rather pay companies who care about my data and provide what I need.

See, simple HN comment, solid reasoning, no contradictions. No Google service installed anywhere. Is that so hard?

To a certain point I'd even agree. Google products often lack a certain love for details. Their apps sometimes feel like MVPs that aren't nice to use, which in turn leads to them abandoning them.

1. Make photo storage free, forever!

2. Kill all competitors

3. "It's not cost effective for this to be free, new captive google users."

Please don't shoot the messenger. Many stupid posts earlier doesn't mean this one is also. You know he is salty? Any evidence? "some rambling ?" who decides? "Entitlement is strong" or your need to judge is stronger? "privacy arguments are BS" again where is reasoning?

> "some rambling ?"

Yes the part "Why?", which should explain this motivation uses two paragraphs about unrelated stuff, like Cambridge Analytica, which was Facebook's problem not Google's.

> "Entitlement is strong"

Yes, complaining about someone not giving you something for free is entitlement. In its purest form.

> "privacy arguments are BS"

They obviously aren't. But in this context they are. Either you care about privacy or you continue to use Google products, like Google fonts. This just shows, what the author is "salty" about, which is Google charging for their products. Because he continues to use their free offerings.

Block certain ads > Turn off personalized ads


Once you've turned off personalization, Google will no longer use your info to personalize your ads. Ads can still be targeted with info like your general location or the content of the website you’re visiting.

While those are nice words to read, I simply don't believe them. I've had personalized ads turned off on my google account since the feature was available and I still get personalized ads everywhere that they show up. That isn't damning evidence because Google isn't the only ad network, but for me it is enough to not believe those words.

I also completely realize this is an irrational opinion. I'm extremely jaded by advertising and want the major ad companies to have as little of my data as possible.

The article does not really help me, for example, and this is why:

I never had a Twitter, Reddit, Instagram account. I had a FB one for work opened ~ 2010 for recruiting presence, closed it a few years ago. I have an Android phone that works, like 99.99% of these phones, with a Google account and the article does not help with this. I also have a Google mail account (same) that I use for nothing important, I have a different, non-Google one for personal stuff separate from the work account. So I am fine with Google reading all my useless emails, no problem here.

So, how and what to de-Google? The email ... no need. The phone ... no solution. Photos? Why would I ever put my photos on Internet, am I some kind of moron? Google Drive ... I used it as a dropbox to share a file with someone and delete it (and the file is encrypted if it matters). Waze? Wow, I have no replacement for that and I use it a lot, the traffic in my area is so bad (top 3 in Europe in the bad way) that Waze is essential to know where there are 10 minute standstills and try to go around or leave 15 minutes earlier. What is the replacement for it?

The recent 180 with Google Photos was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.

I've seen them abandon products in the past, and have always been wary about their use of my data, albeit never enough to make the effort to use another service or pay for one.

This was such a bold reversal of their promise to offer free photo storage "forever" that I felt like it's only a matter of time before I get seriously impacted in other ways.

So I switched up everything:

- Google Photos -> Apple Photos (and local backups)

- Google Maps -> Apple Maps (luckily recent improvements have made it usable for my region)

- Gmail -> Fastmail

- Google Search -> Duck Duck Go (still relying on !g for most programming related searches)

- Google Chomre -> Safari (switched a year ago)

On the plus side, it feels good moving away from Google and not giving them my data. On the downside I'm now paying for services that I had for free, and in some ways getting more tied to Apple.

Disgusting - Google was effectively feeding it's photo AI algorithms for face detection and tagging for years

i cant be the only one who thinks this post is low/zero effort?

right. Another day, another google hate post on HN getting all the upvotes and traffic. Tired.

No you are not the only one.

Much like your comment?

I would like to do this, but some services will need to hang around longer than others as I have not yet found replacements I fully like for them. For example, I am happy to be rid of Gmail and Photos, but still need to use the online editor features of Docs for the time being. And some I just really like and want to keep using, like Google Music. I wonder if there is any point deleting any of the services if I don't get rid of _all_ of them right away? Will just keeping Docs and Music and removing everything else make any meaningful impact on what data Google tracks and stores about me?

The problem with moving away from Google and Facebook always seems to come down to cost and convenience.

The recent removal of infinite photo storage, and the always-imminent demise of hangouts might have finally moved the for me on Google, but it's unfortunate that Google Docs is still the premiere collaboration platform for many folks.

And Messenger/WhatsApp are the messaging platforms of choice in at least half the world. One can't just up and leave while staying in touch with friends/family.

There are tons of reasons, specific to separate Google products. Leave Google drive for a better solution like FileCloud or may be even Dropbox for the personal use. Leave Google Chrome for browsers like Opera/ FF or Brave, use may be Bing/ Duck duck go instead of Google search. It's a matter of perspective and personal choice, but there are alternates to Google products which are better ofcourse.

1. Have your email address on a domain that's under your own control. Whoever controls your email box has control over your entire online persona.

2. Backup data from Google using automated tools like rclone. Rclone can download Google Drive data and Google Photos (albeit with duplicates).

3. Encrypt and backup your data to services like Backblaze, AWS S3, Wasabi, etc.

At least for your photos, you probably want to use Google Takeout. Rclone is wonderful, but Google's photo api strips off GPS tags from all your files.

PhotoStructure will dedupe your Google Takeout, FWIW.

Rather pointless article. It doesn't give any new or even compelling arguments to leave. Just "woooo personal data". And it doesn't even tell you how to leave, like nobody is just going to delete all their data. People want alternatives.

Ironically, leaving google is easier on Android because you can download and use apps without the App Store.

For example, how is using YouTube via the iOS app any different _at all_? If you had android you could use the app newpipe.

IMO: continuing to use youtube in any way isn't really leaving google.

True, but proxying an app you use heavily to transition to a new platform can be useful.

In any case, YouTube alternatives like LBRY have way better apps for android. Element (matrix chat) is also 100x better on android.

I can only imagine that android is easier to develop on and get approved, even for more experimental apps like Manyverse (secure-scuttlebutt twitter).

What is the alternative...? They both provide important services...

Individuals leaving is pointless, it needs to be a mass exodus.

I'd love to see write ups on ways to make competing products and have a shot at taking customers from big tech.

Quick question: If you wanted to put your phone in a field of some kind where it received faked GPS data, could you do it, and if so, how?

can we delete google play account (like youtube, google one,) while keeping the mail account

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