Image credit: ITworld/Steve Traynor
A year ago, I divorced Google. In any divorce, friends go with both sides. Most friends went with Google, but a few stayed with me. I'm in a much happier place. It can be done. The co-dependency is over.
Much has happened a year later, most of it good. I still have a few moments when strange things happen because of my lack of anything Google. But I'm happy I made the choice. Should you use a search engine, you'll find much more criticism of my divorce using the search string, "henderson ITworld divorcing google". It's been tough to find starkly negative criticism. Some of the criticism applauds, while other raises the spectre of what privacy has become, and if Google is the savior and protagonist we all once thought they were. I still use Search, but even Search has changed.
Observations and lessons learned
There are some observations that I've made, post-divorce, of just how pervasive online data gathering has become and how Terms of Service privacy invasion and data sharing are now so wide-spread and out-in-the-open. Online sites don't blush about what your use of the site means in terms of your privacy. From your phone, your credit cards, even your car must willingly give up what you've been doing, where you've been (correlating this with where your friends have been), how long you spent doing something, perhaps ownership of the pictures taken, and we're not even talking web surfing yet. All of this information might be sold to someone you don't know, and will be kept long after you're dead. This situation, imposed rejection problems when I surfing for replacement apps.
Initially, it was Google's Terms of Service and Privacy Statement that motivated me to give up over 3,000 Google+ Friends, and to stop using the Google search engine and the rest of their products, attractive as they were. I've listed some of what I used at Google, and the replacements below. Some friends followed my example onto other social media sites. Not many. Perhaps they weren't really friends. Others took my lead in their own ways.
I must admit that for purposes of my research and testing (and my Android phone) that I still have a Google account under ExtremeLab's name. Full disclosure also says that I occasionally spin up a Windows 7 virtual machine that doesn't use script blockers, solely to use the AirBNB site, which doesn't work without them. Google is interwoven into the code of AirBNB's site, and it's a necessary evil. AirBNB is a little paranoid, in my opinion, but given the crux of their business, I suppose I'm ok with that. I spin down the Windows 7 instance, logon to AirBNB, and move on. I could make it easier, procedurally. I don't. Even Apple knows the problems of divorcing Google Maps.
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