I’m (mostly) free of the Google “Collective”

Google launched Google+, their social network for nerds1, in 2011. It had almost no impact on real people and growth was slow. Being the impatient type — wanting Facebook type numbers without the effort — Google decided to force everyone using any kind of Google service to use Google+. They have been inflating their numbers via tricks on Gmail signups, requiring Google accounts for Google Play and YouTube comments and turning Google search into a social ranking system. They’ve managed to convince the cheapskates of the world — the people addicted to FREE — to hand over information that Google then mines and sells to advertisers. You are the product, not the customer. You web behaviour is being tracked and analyzed in EVERY Google service even when telling Google not to and Android device. Google probably knows you better than you know you.

But unlike Google’s legions of fandroids and glassholes I know better. For the head-up-Googles’ ass types who might be reading this, if you have no worries about privacy and nothing to hide, I suggest attaching a GoPro — sorry I forgot you have Google Glass — to your body and live streaming your life to your personal YouTube Channel. Your sex life, your showers, your masturbation habits, your intimate conversations … broadcast them all. You have nothing to hide and you don’t need privacy.

I am on a quest to reduce my reliance on Google services. I am willing to delete my Gmail account, one that I’ve had since the beta launched in 2004, and move to another service. I’m willing to move my Google Calendar, the one letting Google know who I’m with, when and where. I’ll find a way to share photos without using Picasaweb and without having Google do face recognition them so that they can better track us. I’ll find a less creepy way to share documents and video than Google Docs and YouTube. Google won’t be able to track my phone calls and text and listen to my voice-mail anymore.

Browser

I will no longer use Google Chrome. I don’t trust it. For day-to-day use, I have switched to using the WhiteHat Aviator or Safari with the Disconnect privacy extension.

WhiteHat Aviator comes ready-to-go with hardened security and privacy settings, giving hackers less to work with. And our browser downloads to you – without any hidden user-tracking functionality. Our default search engine is DuckDuckGo – not Google, which logs your activity. For good measure, Aviator integrates Disconnect – a crucial extension that blocks advertisements and much of the privacy-destroying tracking users across the Internet.

Email

My plan is to move my Gmail and Google Apps hosted email accounts to a paid IMAP service provider. The shortlist includes FastMail and Runbox. Both of these services offer trial accounts and I moved one domain during the trial period. These two services offer migration tools for importing all existing mail, including folders, to the new account.

Gmail has some great spam filters. I’m not certain either FastMail or Runbox can match it. I’m already looking for alternatives. I don’t mind paying a nominal fee for spam filtering.

Documents

I’ve never been a heavy user of Google Drive or Google Docs. I prefer Dropbox or Box. Apple updated iCloud this summer and it now offers similar functionality to Google Docs. In fact, on the Mac, it’s better. I can start a presentation in Keynote on OS X, save to iCloud and continue working on my Pages on my iPad, or make edits in Pages in a browser in iCloud.com. Dropbox or Box documents can be opened/saved via any of the iWork apps on iOS or OS X. The combination of Dropbox/Box and iCloud easily replaces Google Drive. If you prefer Microsoft products, Office365 is a great paid replacement for Google Drive.

Telephony

I found a few alternatives to Google Voice. I created an account with Line2 and I am researching [Phonebooth.com](http://phone booth.com) and SendHub. Neither Line2 nor Phonebooth seems to match the features of Google Voice — call forwarding and voicemail being the major ones. SendHub seems feature complete but won’t be cheap. But that’s a small price to pay compared to starving Google of the value of my personal phone call information.

Calendar

Moving my calendar should be relatively easy. While Google Calendar integrates more easily with Google+ events, there are no benefits to Google Calendar over iCloud.com, Live Calendar, or Zoho Calendar.

Media

Video

I’ve started to upload my personal videos to Vimeo. The free account limits my bandwidth to only a few videos uploaded per month and limits the quality of the video. That’s good enough for now. I may at some point decide that the quality gap is too high and upgrade to a paid account. In the meantime, I’ve deleted my YouTube account. I’ve had that account for almost a decade but I didn’t have any qualms about deleting all my videos and the account.

Photos

I’ve had a Flickr account before bought PicasaWeb (now Google+ Photos) and integrated it into their data collection empire. I’ve started to rely on that service more in the short-term. Yahoo and Google are in the same data collection business. I also have a paid account on 500px but prefer to reserve that account for only my best. I want an account on which I can share photos with my friends and family. Perhaps a paid account with SmugMug might be best.


  1. Seriously it’s a photo/tech nerd sausage fest. Nothing you say will convince me otherwise. Frack off! ?

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6 responses on “I’m (mostly) free of the Google “Collective””

  1. I’m currently fully entrenched in the Google ecosystem. I have opted out of everything that I can with Google as far as ads and tracking, but I still have concerns about a company that makes its money from selling data to advertisers. I have an iPad that I use, but haven’t been able to give up Android as a phone just yet. I bought an iPhone 5S the first day they came out, but then sold it 3 weeks later because I’m too used to the way Android works (oh, and I hate iTunes, and Apple kind of forces that one on you.)

    I recently bought a MacBook Pro, looking to move away from Windows as my daily driver. I still have Windows at work, but it may be virtualized soon. This may make it easier for me to make the switch completely to Apple, should I choose to do so.

    I noticed that you didn’t list iCloud as a consideration for email. Is there a reason? I’ve also read some articles calling into question just how much data Apple gathers. What are your thoughts?

    1. Apple gathers data for some of the same reason Google does. Improving services (email, calendar, etc.) is one of them. Some services require data to function, e.g. Siri and Maps and Find my iPhone can’t work without location data etc. Some services such as iTunes Genius will, when you ask it to, search your music library and make suggestion on purchases. But it has to do this every time. The difference between Apple and Google is that Google benefits greatly from building a profile of you based on your passive usage of all their service. Apple does not. Google is freaking creepy. There is a software switch in the privacy section of my iOS that turns of “ad tracking” and allows me to control what apps have access to what services. Google tracks everything you do on your phone and you can’t turn it off. They when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake. They know when you’ve been good or bad so be good for goodness sake.

      You wrote,”I hate iTunes, and Apple kind of forces that one on you.” I assume you mean iTunes on the Mac. I have’t used iTunes in months. Last time it was to stream some music to my home stereo. If you are using iTunes to manage you iPhone and iPad then you are doing it wrong. 🙂 I know people who own iPads and iPhones and don’t have a computer.

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