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Should You De-Google Your Life?

Google is a central part of many people’s lives. It is hard to imagine that there was ever an internet without Google, their influence on how we use the internet, and what we end up seeing is enormous.

Given the huge responsibility that Google has on its shoulders, it is only natural that the company should be held to a very high standard. Unfortunately, people increasingly feel that Google is falling short of the expected standards. As a result, they are looking to remove Google from their lives entirely.

Why Are People Turning Away From Google?

Should You De-Google Your Life?

For a long time, Google could do no wrong. They are, after all, how most of us find things on the internet. Without Google, we would be lost, right?

Well, it seems that increasing numbers of people think not. People are beginning to embrace other search engines, engines that offer better privacy and increasingly comparable search algorithms, as well as an array of other UPSs that put them ahead of Google in many people’s eyes. But it isn’t just the availability of other options that is driving a slow but steady exodus from Google’s services.

Do No Evil

Google’s infamous motto for a number of years has been “Do No Evil”, but this has begun to ring increasingly hollow over the years. Google has been embroiled in a range of controversies, some of which have prompted its own employees to force a course change by threatening to walk out en masse if the company doesn’t reconsider.

It has also faced legal action and been forced to change its procedures for investigating sexual harassment claims within the business.

Thanks to the way that Google has conducted itself, it has begun to put off several corners of its own fanbase. People who previously chose to use Google as the path of least resistance and don’t have any kind of deep-seated loyalty to the business are now more likely to switch to other alternatives. 

User Tracking And Privacy Problems

When people think of Google, they used to immediately associate them with their search engines. But today, people are just as likely to link Google with their widespread data collection practices. Google holds an absurd amount of data on all of us, they are constantly monitoring and tracking their users in a variety of different ways.

Google is also actively involved in a range of AI and machine learning-driven ventures, ventures that have a strong commercial interest in the data that Google holds.

What’s more, Google has historically not been very good about making it easy for users to opt-out of Google’s data collection programs. Nor has it always been transparent about what data it is gathering and why.

The company is much better on both these fronts today, largely because it has been forced to reform its policies. However, it will take a lot more time and measures from Google to restore many people’s faith in the search giant’s ability to handle their data securely.

Real-World Consequences

Of course, Google doesn’t just operate a search engine these days. Through its Android operating system, which integrates a variety of Google services, Google is able to gather an enormous amount of data about us all.

This includes location data that records everywhere we have been and what we have done. This is the kind of information that is very valuable to other people but most of us would want to keep private.

The issues that people have with Google’s mass collection and retention of their data go far beyond being an abstract academic issue.

For example, there has been at least one case where an innocent bike rider became a suspect in a burglary, simply because he happened to cycle past a house that was burgled. How did law enforcement know that he had passed the house? The location data from his phone revealed it.

The use of Google location data in law enforcement investigations has been going on for a while, over the objections of privacy groups across the US. Using relatively broad warrants, law enforcement agencies in the US seem to have no trouble accessing Google location data.

It’s Not Just People, It’s Corporations Too

It isn’t just individual people that are beginning to turn away from Google, a growing number of businesses are also starting to look for Google alternatives. For example, Cloudflare, one of the biggest names in the field of web design, have shunned Google’s vaunted CAPTCHA system in favor of a non-Google alternative. 

Open-Source Future

The market for open-source software is alive and healthy, offering alternatives to virtually every service that Google is offering. For example, if you want to use a non-Google search engine then DuckDuckGo offers much more comprehensive user privacy.

Equally, if you want to stop using Google’s services because you disagree with their corporate ethos then there are search engines like Ecosia that aim to turn their users’ searches into money for worthwhile environmental causes.

If you have never considered turning away from Google, there has never been a better time to take the plunge. Living without Google is much easier than many people realize, especially given the proliferation of open-source software in recent years.

Whatever Google services you currently use, there are almost definitely alternatives available. The most difficult area of life to de-Google is your smartphone. Realistically, you either have to go with Google or Apple. However, because of the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, Huawei is rapidly becoming a third competitor.