Best sites and services you can use as an alternative to the biggest players, such as Google, Facebook, etc. Work in progress and open to suggestions – tweet me! Links will be added!
Why is this important? For a good overview of what some call the “surveillance economy” or “surveillance capitalism,” listen to this podcast episode from Mozilla, a company that has been a voice for online privacy for years. Data about you, your habits, patterns and choices are being collected, and then sold just about every time you use a computer or mobile device.
Note: Where applicable all links are to US sites and versions of products, unless otherwise indicated.
DuckDuckGo – has the appeal of not sharing your data with Google or anyone else, though recent news suggests that may not be completely true.
Start Page – claims to have the most private search engine
Technical searches – WolframAlpha
A handful of platforms control the overwhelming majority of the social media space. They’ve been to Congress recently. But there are millions of people, and other platforms do exist. Their numbers are growing as more people want to have a place to speak freely and let the community police itself.
Parler – Similar to Twitter, allows up to 1000 characters for slightly longer posts
Gab – Launched in 2016
Do you want to get rid of Chrome? I can’t help you there, once it’s installed good luck getting rid of all Google components. But you can at least change browsers.
Firefox – Mozilla has a strong commitment to privacy and has spearheaded many features to help reduce tracking.
Bonus: Alternative Internet Routing
Tor and Clearnet provide an ability to more anonymously reach internet destinations. Put simply, instead of going from Point A–B, Tor connects to a network that makes one or more “hops” before reaching Point B. This adds layer(s) of anonymity.
Did you know even the system used to convert website names (www.standardexcellence.net) into IP addresses (like 10.105.1.21, for example as a local IP) has alternatives? By default, many, if not most routers and computers today are preset to Google’s DNS.
Google’s DNS: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52
Open DNS: 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11
Why would you bother changing DNS, and how could it affect your internet experience? For the first part, using Google’s DNS means Google knows where you browse to, even if you don’t use Google’s search engine to get there. The website name still has to be translated to an IP. Using an alternative will diversify your tracking.
OpenDNS also offers an adult-filtering DNS that restricts any device behind it from being loaded in the first place. This is really handy if you are someone who does not wish to see adult content on the internet. It can be very difficult to avoid it. Advertisements on an otherwise “clean” page could be found offensive without filtering.
DoH – DNS over HTTPS is another alternative to plain old DNS. Your session might be encrypted with HTTPS, but did you know the traffic routing to get you there isn’t exactly secure? Not unless you use DNS over HTTPS, which is encrypted traffic to lookup DNS. Cloudflare has a service, but let me tell you about NextDNS. They aren’t Cloudflare. In fact, if you use Firefox you might already have DoH active with Cloudflare. Head over to your Settings -> General -> Network settings and look for the section.