Got Google? Of course you do. Apple puts Google as the default search engine for Safari. If you have an online life it becomes difficult to escape Google’s ubiquitous tracking mechanisms. Why would you want to escape?
Google tracks your online habits and uses that information to put advertising into your face across a broad spectrum of the internet. Advertising is everywhere and much of that comes from Google and what does not often has data collected by Google.
It’s not that I have an issue with advertising– that’s what greases the world of commerce, information, and entertainment– but I have concerns that the information gathered from us is used to misinform and manipulate our behavior offline.
What would it take to get rid of Google entirely?
First, use a non-Chrome, non-Safari browser. That leaves you with Firefox; notably faster and with privacy and security built-in by default.
Second, avoid Gmail. Google snoops through Gmail messages. Even if you have nothing to hide do you really want someone looking through your email?
Next, ditch Google Maps for Apple Maps. Slowly and steadily Apple has improved Maps so that it is the most used maps application for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Yes, Microsoft Office might be the standard set of office suites for Mac and Windows, but Google Docs has grown in usage. Again, it’s Google. Use Apple’s iWork or Office instead (fully cross platform, too).
Also, make sure not to use Google Calendar, Google Photos, or even Google Drive. iCloud has become a very good competitor on price and features and I use it alongside Dropbox.
What about YouTube?
To many around the world, YouTube is television and there is no real competition, including Vimeo. If ditching YouTube is a pain you cannot live with, DuckDuckGo’s video search provides anonymous viewing of YouTube Videos.
Finally, to ensure you have Google’s tracking clutches far from your online presence, use a VPN. Colleague Wil Gomez has a good list of the best ones to use.
How deep are Google’s online tentacles?
Not only does Google follow you on search engine results, but Google Analytics is used by many, many websites to track visitors. Google collects that information, too. NoodleMac and all the Villagers websites ditch Analytics a few years ago and that makes our sites tracker free– advertisers and analytics and cookies.
All the information that trackers grab about you gets used against you in the future, so the less advertisers and governments know, the better.