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Cutting Tech Giants From My Life

 
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With all that I read and hear about the tech giants watching our every move and trying to influence (read: control) our lives, I have decided to do what I can to get them out of my life. This is not going to be an easy task. I wonder if it is possible in this day and age, and I wonder how much it is going to "hurt" as they do offer services that make my life a hell of a lot easier.

The Tech Giants I am moist concerned about are called The Big 5: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple.

The first thing I did was ditch Google's search engine and started using DuckDuckGo (https://duckduckgo.com/). We all know Google tracks all of our searches and does it, at the very least, to offer those endless ads all over the internet. Ever wonder why you can search for something, a product, on Google and before you know it, you are being bombarded for ads for that product? DuckDuckGo, according to their website, and other sites where I have read about DuckDuckGo, protects your searches from targeting of advertisers, blocks hidden trackers, and gives an unbiased search that's never based on your search history.

That part was easy! The next part was a little harder.

I deleted my GMail, YouTube and complete Google account. Guess I will throw my Google Home speakers in the garbage since I can't use them without a Google account. Oh well, I am one of those people that believes that these smart home devices are "listening in". I then deleted my Facebook account.

So far, I have adjusted to these changes, but these were the easiest ones. Apple (I own an iphone), Microsoft (oh no, not my computer!) and Amazon (I just love shopping in my underwear) are on the horizon. These are going to be a lot harder to break away from.

How about you? Are you concerned about Big Tech? Not really looking for a debate about Big Tech, but advice about how to break Big Tech's hold in today's world. Have you cut away (or are you cutting away) from Big Tech? How? What are you doing? Any help is much appreciated.
 
pollinator
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Not so much cut away as never got into. I don't have a personal smart phone and it's starting to be a major problem, many places prefer payment with an app (mobil Pay) some even refuse cash which is actually illegal here. Our old phones can't receive messages other than basic text messages and many text messages nowadays are not actually sms's but rather media messages which means we don't get them. There are also many discounts at the local shops that are only available via a mobile phone, there is talk about corona "passports" that would be on your phone... There is no Amazon here so that's easy enough to avoid, but what you could do there is use Amazon to find the item you want and then go directly to the company, many sell direct as well as through Amazon.

You can avoid Microsoft on a computer with only a little bit of extra work. My email is with Yahoo and has been since 1999 so I wouldn't be about to delete that unless they stopped supporting it.

I bought my first thing from Amazon in 2002 it was an out of print book, it took them 3 months to source it but it turned up eventually. (edible and medicinal herbs of Britain and Northern Europe)
 
pollinator
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Good for you! :) In a strategic exit from supporting certain large companies, for me tech is much further down the road. Right now it’s the car. Would love to see how this thread unfolds.
 
Jim Guinn
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Skandi - They are making it much harder to live without smart technology.

Huxley - Yes, I thought this might be an interesting topic to see what other folks are doing.

I kind of look at it this way, not using Big Tech is like digging a big hole with a shovel. Using Big Tech is like digging the same hole with a back hoe. But, since I do all my work on my property by hand, I should be able to run my life "by hand", too!
 
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A few suggestions:

- Cut Cable TV, ignore/shun all MSM outlets, avoid supporting Hollywood or professional sports.

- Use Opera browser for internet, it has built in ad blocker and a VPN option.

- Switch to Protonmail for email "ProtonMail is incorporated in Switzerland and all our servers are located in Switzerland. This means all user data is protected by strict Swiss privacy laws."
Some email providers (ie: mailchimp) are scaning the contents of your emails and blocking things they deam don't meet their 'publishing' standards.  

- Find an old computer and install a Linux OS for internet browsing.

- Use craigslist, buy second hand items whenever possible.

- Transact in cash whenever possible. resist the push towards digital 'money'

 
pollinator
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I'm not really concerned. My personal opinion on the matter is that yes, we need to be aware and cautious of what data is available on us. I just don't think that we have the kind of control you imagine exists for us.

What do you use to find your way around? Because I use GoogleMaps. Yes, that requires that, at very least, my cellphone's position is tracked with reference to the cell towers it's using, and for complicated things, you need your data to be on and your location information available.

What's the alternative? I'm not carrying around a Pearly's that I have to replace every year or two. And what are they going to be able to do with my location information? Target me with ever-more enticing ads while I use the internet? Do you have any idea how much time is saved on a daily basis by knowing where traffic is densest along my route and avoiding it?

Also, we really aren't doing much about governments and corporations spying on us, anyways. They have our credit card information, they know where we make our calls, where we buy our gas, where we go shopping. There's CCTV basically anywhere there's something worth enough to justify the cost of surveillance. Couple that with modern face recognition technology, over which we have no control, and the jig is up.

Face it. Pandora's Box has been opened. The Rubicon has been crossed. Milk, spilled, all over the floor.

Which is not to say that conscientious action shouldn't be taken. But for me, it has nothing to do with surveillance issues. The most they can do is tempt me with awesome deals that I have to say no to. And if they're doing their jobs, the ads that will come up will be those for, I don't know, Pantry Paratus, or Permies-affiliated sites and producers.

No, the way I cut tech giants in meaningful ways is, as Paul says, voting with my dollar. I eschew the mass-market for the local option. Where we can source locally made soap, that's what we do. We buy our produce in season when we can, and when we can't, we try to rely as much as possible on dried pantry goods. Each of these is not only a papercut to one or all of these giants, but a boost for local endeavours and economy.

Because the real harm that these tech giants are doing is economic. The surveillance thing is a smokescreen, because it's a scary-sounding thing that these entities can be seen to address for their customers, who can then go on using their online stores as before, knowing that they held the big tech corporations to account, and that everything is rosy now.

Except that all the mom and pop shops in your small towns, and your not small towns, and your cities, have been taking the real hits since the giants took over. We're not talking just tech giants; in this context, they're included, but are hardly the whole picture. No, we're talking the Costcos, the Walmarts, even the Indigo/Chapters of the world. They're vampires sucking the hearts of small communities dry.

Avoiding control is an illusion. They already have it. Where do most people in the untied states get their groceries? I know that here where I live, Loblaws is one of the three-ish grocery companies, each of whom have something like two or three subsidiaries. We all eat, and unless we're going to CSAs and getting our meat from local butchers, the money we need to spend on food goes to them by default. They're making profits even in this time of pandemic, even during the first shutdown, and refusing to voluntarily raise the pay of their so-called "frontline heroes," who I believe deserve not just the appellation, but at least the two-dollar-an-hour raise over minimum that was mandated during the first shutdown, and rescinded as soon as Galen Weston and his buddies could justify it.

And he had the gall to say that yes, he agreed that frontline workers merited the extra pay he and his corporate compatriots were removing, but that it should be mandated by government, and in our case, a government whose brain has been replaced with the words Open For Business.

Do you want something meaningful to do that will hurt the big 5, and others, and help mom-and-pop shops everywhere? Stop giving the big 5, and any multinational corporations you can identify, your money. Find local alternatives, and change how you buy to stop feeding these monsters. We can kill them all with the Death of a Thousand Cuts.

Any other measure might be valid, but I would consider it of limited impact in terms of scope, even if you stopped using electricity entirely. Eschewing multinationals in favour of local and domestic interests, finding good, solid models for normal people to do that and benefit by it personally, and then telling others how they can make their own lives better and bring back local small business and small communities is a tine in the woodchipper that will turn all these bloated interests into mulch to regrow our local economic ecosystems.

-CK

 
master steward
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Every time I try to cancel my facebook account, they've changed how to do it and the online guides I am trying don't match the options in front of me.  Did you follow a tutorial and if so, could you post a link?  Thanks!
 
steward
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Here's a few things I and we (wife and I) have done. We got rid of television and don't even own one, and the one we had was an older flat tv, not the "smart" ones that are connected to the internet with cameras and microphones. One benefit we like and realized immediately is so much more can be accomplished in a day without that distraction detracting from life and fogging our minds.

I got a protonmail email account and have been in the process of migrating important emails to that account, and my gmail account has been relegated to my spam account, and if I have to give an email address for any reason, I give away my now junk gmail account.

I dumped chrome on my phone and use the duckduckgo web browser. While i'm talking about my phone, I have an android phone, which is owned by google, so I think they're still mining all my data and usage anyway. I would love to ditch my phone altogether and go phoneless, but I am married, and my wife makes some compelling reasons as to why I should keep it in case she needs to get in touch with me. I will admit it has some handy and very useful features, such as a calculator, a clock, a stopwatch, checking the weather, and a nifty app for gps mapping fields on my farm. I will also say I do have some sort of addiction to my phone and its conveniences, and being aware of that, I am taking small steps to wean myself from my phone. For example, I leave my phone in the house when I'm out on the farm. I've been occasionally leaving my phone at home while going out (don't tell my wife). I don't think they can track my whereabouts and shopping habits if my phone isn't with me and I pay with paper money.

I never had, and still don't have a facebook account. I joke with my wife that if I end up a widower, I'll finish dropping out and tuning in, and dump all technology, load my truck full of hand tools and books, and go live in an isolated cabin deep in the northern woods and no one that knows me will ever see me again.

Amazon is a tough one. Being a sort of introvert and empath, if I can have the friendly guy in the brown truck bring me goods so I don't have to go anywhere, I'll use amazon first before driving to a city to purchase goods. I do enjoy driving to small farms to chat with other friendly farmers and buy meat, dairy and chicken feed.



 
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I don't know if anyone noticed but Apple introduced contact tracing on ver 13.5 and then by ver 14 stated that since so few people opted in it would be enabled by default.
While it seriously hampers 2 way communication a Faraday cage (bag) is the answer here, you can buy it on Amazon (and I'd get one while they are still available!) and test it out (many are placebo's).
It will eliminate incoming and outgoing signals, its also a wonderful place to carry your smart cards and ID to defeat cloning options.

The caveat is you have to be careful to be in a private place to take it out and use it to contact others (this keeps de-facto tracking in play..if you get a signal...they get a location!....But!! you'll look totally chaotic without a reasonable explanation of transit! (if you need verification of presence you won't have it via electronics!)) and collect messages, obviously Apple Pay is a no go. You won't be immediately available in the case of emergency.
The biggest daily inconvenience is having to wear and maintain a watch again.
MeWe seems to be a reasonable Facebook replacement....currently.
 
master steward & author
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I think I'm very lucky that I didn't subscribe to many of the giants.  I suspect it's a lot easier for me to live without FB because I've never had it.  Same with not having a smartphone.  I often wonder if I should get one, but I can't imagine how having one would make my life better - or at least better enough to justify the financial burden.

But I'm of a generation that knew what it was like not to have the internet.  HTML became a real thing when I was in my teens, and for many, many years, it was hammered home that we were not to trust the world we find online.  Be very careful giving out your data because your personal data is the only thing that makes you unique on the internet.  Your personal data is the most powerful weapon that can be used against you.  Most importantly, if someone wants to give you something "free" in exchange for you using it, then there must be a reason.  We live in a capitalist centric world.  Nothing is "free" without good reason.  When a company or corporation is big enough to have that name, then be certain they are making a profit out of you using the "free" thing.  


That is the belief system that was ingrained in me as I learned to use the internet and I've been very careful to read the terms of service of any big corporation I interact with.  (have a read of the FB fine print if you ever want to lose sleep).  I do utilize some services of The Tech Giants but I'm very aware of what data I give them.  

But to be frank, most of these things cost money.  Smartphones.  Smart speakers.  I have better things to spend my money on.

Although, this is tempting



Or maybe that you can now guess my age, I should be getting something like this?


 
Chris Kott
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R, I am not disagreeing on the broad strokes, necessarily. But ads generate revenue for a lot of free sites and services, and while some nefarious stuff could potentially be done with the data gathered and sold by some of these platforms, I think a lot of it has to do with increasing the sales points of the companies investing in adspace on these websites. If the percentage of sales attributed to online ads increases because they are being targeted at appropriate audiences, that's legal bank that's being made.

They don't have to steal, or blackmail, or anything. All they have to do is show you something that you need, or that you salivate over online, and provide it at a discount to local suppliers, where most would be more likely to go.

As I said, I am certain that worse things could be done with the data, but I think it's worth more to them to make legal money by getting us to slowly starve our local business ecosystem. It's like predator competition. They are eliminating their competition by depriving them of prey, by eating it. We'll overlook the part of the simile where we're willingly walking into their open mouths for the sake of simplicity.

I think that eventually, we will see lawsuits challenging the legality of contracts agreed to by signing with a button-click. There have already been some, which is why personal data privacy has been top of mind for the last decade or so.

My point is that of Occam's Razor. Profit is a simple, straightforward, and sufficient motivation for these business entities. We needn't ascribe more to it. It doesn't really do anything meaningful to add, "...and they eat babies..." to the list of damning evidence, nor is it useful to blame them for the demise of the unicorn. The fact that their business model relies upon starving mom and pop shops until they close is sufficient evil unto the day.

And maybe some can adapt to more beneficial roles, wherein they provide more than sufficient employment and support to the community, using their online ad power to increase sales at the hometown mom and pop shops through symbiotic competition. I don't know. But let's be clear about why these tech giants are bad, and then let's take measured responses to mitigate their badness while bolstering the things they seek to destroy.

Otherwise, we're migrating to other platforms to do exactly the same thing.

-CK
 
Pete Podurgiel
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Chris Kott wrote: Stop giving the big 5, and any multinational corporations you can identify, your money. Find local alternatives, and change how you buy to stop feeding these monsters. We can kill them all with the Death of a Thousand Cuts.



Admirable and the right thing to do, but seeing as infinite public funds/subsidies/grants can be printed out of thin air to support the Corporatocracy with little to no oversight - the bad guys will prevail every time.
For example, we can all refuse to buy MS products, but if the State takes a loan (and raises our taxes) for the schools to buy 500,000 laptops made in China and loads it with Win10 ...what impact have we made?
Unfortunately, the game has been completely rigged for the insiders.

If ony there was some document that prohibited the use of debt-money, that might help ....oh well, one can dream I suppose.

 
r ranson
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One thing I can do when buying a new computer is to get it built locally.  That's what the University does when supplying their offices with computers.  They buy the components and build the machines to the needs of the user.

This isn't as awesome as building from scratch locally, but that's not really possible at this time.

But it does mean they don't get box-standard computers made for the mass market.

That's what I do when I get a computer.  I get one built and I stipulate that it be easily upgradeable as my needs change.  I just got a couple of ram chips to add to mine from a local shop.  
 
master pollinator
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People concerned about privacy, big brother,tech giant spying and the like may want to consider Signal private messenger.  Secure text messaging, phone and video calls, the ability to send messages that disappear after a time that you set.  It's free, open source, and used by some of the most security minded professionals in the world.  I personally use it and it's flippin' awesome.
 
pollinator
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I deleted Facebook. This was a big deal for me. I admit to being quite addicted to it. I have friends and family all over the world and it's how we all kept track of one another. Unfortunately the political and social climate got to be where I didn't enjoy Facebook much. I Was unfollowing people left and right to protect my mental health from poisonous radicalism on all sides. At which point deleting it just made sense.
 
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