10 Things You Can Do to Resist Our Big-Tech Overlords

 

10. Use a VPN.

I have no clear idea how much this does to prevent Big Tech from getting all your data.  But it probably helps.

Just don’t trust the advertisements that say you can use a VPN to watch Netflix libraries from other countries. This is, at best, morally questionable since Netflix users pay to watch the libraries made available in a region-specific tangle of copyright restrictions and contracts.  More to the immediate point, Netflix doesn’t like it, they almost always know when I have a VPN on, and they only let me load their content available in all regions.

Anyway.  Moving on.

9. Consider joining an alternate social media platform.

I don’t have a lot of insights on this topic.  Just a tip, a reminder, and an observation.

The tip: Don’t believe what they say about the Big Tech oligarchy killing Parler; it’s still around, though I can’t tell you how well it’s doing.

The reminder: When they say terrible things about Parler, Gab, MeWe, etc., be sure to consider the reasoning carefully and apply consistent standards.  Sometimes it’s Facebook, not Parler, that has the problems blamed on Parler; this sort of thing is probably pretty common.

Parler and other alternatives might still have all kinds of things wrong with them; I don’t know.  And hence this observation, which also applies to various points below:

There’s no guarantee of escaping from evil tech platforms just by moving from the old evil to something new.  The point of resisting Big Tech is not that they’re all evil and the alternatives are all good–though I suspect that in some cases, the alternatives really are much better.  The bigger point is that they’re too powerful, and the evil we do know about should have less power.

Now we don’t want to give all the power to something else and risk finding out too late that it’s even eviler.  A better idea is Chesterton’s: Distribute power as much as possible.  In the long run, when power is distributed fairly, whatever contender is the most good will win out.

8. Use LibreOffice.

I’ve saved some money not buying Microsoft Office for my new laptop.  If you access the same documents at home and at the office, my limited experience suggests that there will be no major compatibility issues in using LibreOffice Writer at home and Microsoft Word at the office.  But I can’t promise anything.

7. Use the NewPipe app for watching YouTube on your smartphone.

Give less of your data to the Google monster!  It’s not perfect: I find I cannot view playlists on other people’s channels.  But I can make my own playlists, and this is enough for a good bit of my YouTube use.

6. Switch to Rumble where you can.

Rumble also has a smartphone app, and many of the old channels on YouTube have a sister presence on Rumble. Babylon Bee is on Rumble. J. P. Sears is on Rumble. Some philosophy education nerdface–ok, it’s me–is on Rumble.

5. Use DuckDuckGo’s browser for your smartphone web browsing.

I just switched over myself, and it’s working out well.  I’m not very good at predicting the future, but there’s a good chance I will never return to regular Chrome use on my phone.

4. Use the Brave browser for your desktop web browsing.

Another switch I just made.  Also working out well.

3. Quit Facebook if it brings you more stress than joy.

Towards the end, I found Facebook to be a soul-eating monstrosity. I’m happier having left and deleted my account.  (Some good stuff did happen there, and I saved all my records; I even had occasion to use them!)

2. Forget whatever you need from what’s above, and make your own dang list.

The eight steps above were just borrowed from my personal experience.  I don’t know anything anyway.  Use your own ideas.  Add them in comments!  Someone might read them and use one, making the world just a tiny bit better!

1. Join Ricochet, get involved in conversations, and start your own from time to time.

Ricochet is the one true social media.  It’s the best conversation on the internet, we need more of it, and if you’re not already involved then you might be just what we need.  No one asked me to say this; I’m serious.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Saint Augustine: Just don’t trust the advertisements that say you can use a VPN to watch Netflix libraries from other countries.

    Fie on Netflix. Their content isn’t even worth stealing.

    • #1
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: Just don’t trust the advertisements that say you can use a VPN to watch Netflix libraries from other countries.

    Fie on Netflix. Their content isn’t even worth stealing.

    That’s the spirit!

    But I do like Stranger Things.

    In a more general post on resisting wokeist cultural giants, we would certainly need to list some alternatives to Netflix, Disney, Amazon, and the other liberal streaming services.

    Netflix at least had the decency to not get all canceley though.

    • #2
  3. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    Saint Augustine:

    7. Use the NewPipe app for watching YouTube on your smartphone.

    Give less of your data to the Google monster!

    I use Freetube to watch Youtube videos.  It claims not to report your viewing habits to Google.  I don’t know how true that is, but it bypasses all the ads and popups.

    Edit: I use this on my desktop PC.

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Saint Augustine: Ricochet is the one true social media.  It’s the best conversation on the internet, we need more of it, and if you’re not already involved then you might be just what we need.  No one asked me to say this; I’m serious.

    I agree with you completely. Thank you for saying this so well. :-) 

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: Just don’t trust the advertisements that say you can use a VPN to watch Netflix libraries from other countries.

    Fie on Netflix. Their content isn’t even worth stealing.

    That’s the spirit!

    But I do like Stranger Things.

    In a more general post on resisting wokeist cultural giants, we would certainly need to list some alternatives to Netflix, Disney, Amazon, and the other liberal streaming services.

    Netflix at least had the decency to not get all canceley though.

    You mean like Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav just did to Batgirl? It was screened for test audiences. Terms like “unspeakable” and “irredeemable” were bandied about.

    There are a lot of things that probably need to go away.

    Meanwhile, word is that the Andor series on Disney- is going to link the Empire to the Orange Man. Kathleen Kennedy is apparently going to burn a $4 billion intellectual property to the ground. Good thing I’m not a stockholder.

    • #5
  6. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    I would advise everyone to abandon Googlemail, Outlook, and the other big corporate email providers.  In the past some of them admitted that they could read your email.

    I use and endorse Protonmail.  Email between Protonmail accounts is encrypted. They don’t have as many bells and whistles as larger email providers, but they have enough for me.  Accounts are free, or you can pay and get additional storage and features.

    Protonmail recently was audited by an outside technology company. The audit results are available here.

    What this means is that a 3rd party tested the Protonmail systems and found no significant issues.   They are as secure as they claim.

    • #6
  7. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Fie on Netflix. Their content isn’t even worth stealing.

    In a more general post on resisting wokeist cultural giants, we would certainly need to list some alternatives to Netflix, Disney, Amazon, and the other liberal streaming services.

    I dropped Netflix when they paid millions to the Obamas to host/oversee Higher Ground productions.

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    I would advise everyone to abandon Googlemail, Outlook, and the other big corporate email providers. In the past some of them admitted that they could read your email.

    I use and endorse Protonmail. Email between Protonmail accounts is encrypted. They don’t have as many bells and whistles as larger email providers, but they have enough for me. Accounts are free, or you can pay and get additional storage and features.

    Protonmail recently was audited by an outside technology company. The audit results are available here.

    What this means is that a 3rd party tested the Protonmail systems and found no significant issues. They are as secure as they claim.

    A great number 11. Or a replacement for one less important one on my list. Thank you.

    • #8
  9. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    I would advise everyone to abandon Googlemail, Outlook, and the other big corporate email providers. In the past some of them admitted that they could read your email.

    I use and endorse Protonmail. Email between Protonmail accounts is encrypted. They don’t have as many bells and whistles as larger email providers, but they have enough for me. Accounts are free, or you can pay and get additional storage and features.

    Protonmail recently was audited by an outside technology company. The audit results are available here.

    What this means is that a 3rd party tested the Protonmail systems and found no significant issues. They are as secure as they claim.

    In your experience is Thunderbird a decent, more secure replacement for Outlook?

    • #9
  10. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    I would advise everyone to abandon Googlemail, Outlook, and the other big corporate email providers. In the past some of them admitted that they could read your email.

    I use and endorse Protonmail. Email between Protonmail accounts is encrypted. They don’t have as many bells and whistles as larger email providers, but they have enough for me. Accounts are free, or you can pay and get additional storage and features.

    Protonmail recently was audited by an outside technology company. The audit results are available here.

    What this means is that a 3rd party tested the Protonmail systems and found no significant issues. They are as secure as they claim.

    Protonmail has been accused of being a federally-established honeytrap, like Tor. I was warned away a few times. I concur with you about the Big Tech email providers, they are to be avoided. Free mail, like all Big Tech free services, is always a sucker’s game, the user is the product, not the customer.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    The biggest flaw with people using a VPN is that if you’re using a VPN to access your google accounts, netflix accounts, walmart accounts, amazon accounts, etc, etc, etc, they still know exactly who you are.

    • #11
  12. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Parler and GETTR are Twitter clones, but with way less content.  My favorite of the alternative media platforms is MeWe, which is more like Facebook or Ricochet, structured around groups you join and post content to.  There’s even a Castle Ricochet there, though it’s something of an abandoned ruin these days.

    • #12
  13. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    kedavis (View Comment):

    The biggest flaw with people using a VPN is that if you’re using a VPN to access your google accounts, netflix accounts, walmart accounts, amazon accounts, etc, etc, etc, they still know exactly who you are.

    Are the ads completely wrong when they say it protects my data from Big Tech? Or does it just anonymize some of the data? Or something else?

    • #13
  14. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Sisyphus (View Comment):
    Protonmail has been accused of being a federally-established honeytrap, like Tor.

    Do you mean the Federal Council of Switzerland?  Because that’s where Proton AG is headquartered AFAIK.

    • #14
  15. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    The biggest flaw with people using a VPN is that if you’re using a VPN to access your google accounts, netflix accounts, walmart accounts, amazon accounts, etc, etc, etc, they still know exactly who you are.

    Are the ads completely wrong when they say it protects my data from Big Tech? Or does it just anonymize some of the data? Or something else?

    If all you do is like google searches without being logged into google, or youtube, etc, etc, etc, then it would be anonymized.  Other than that, about the best you can say is that your local ISP probably doesn’t know what you’re doing, and if you’re on a public wifi or something then others connected to it wouldn’t be able to snoop on you.

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    kedavis (View Comment):

    If all you do is like google searches without being logged into google, or youtube, etc, etc, etc, then it would be anonymized.  Other than that, about the best you can say is that your local ISP probably doesn’t know what you’re doing, and if you’re on a public wifi or something then others connected to it wouldn’t be able to snoop on you.

    So if I’m using Brave with a VPN but I’m logged into Google, I’m still sharing a lot of data with Google?

    • #16
  17. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    The biggest flaw with people using a VPN is that if you’re using a VPN to access your google accounts, netflix accounts, walmart accounts, amazon accounts, etc, etc, etc, they still know exactly who you are.

    Are the ads completely wrong when they say it protects my data from Big Tech? Or does it just anonymize some of the data? Or something else?

    A VPN obscures the originating point of your traffic, e.g., it appears to be coming from Switzerland while you are sitting in Tennessee using your cable modem. It will also protect your data in transit from your computer to their service (encrypted).

    That, however (acknowledging a little hand waving for the techies among us), is the network traffic level. It says nothing about the application level, that is, the sites you are accessing.

    Once you sign on to a BigTech site (Google, Netflix, Facebook, twatter) using that VPN, your network level security doesn’t matter. They know it’s you, because you told them. And if you are allowing them to put identifying information on your computer (cookies, in most cases), that means you can also be identified on other cooperating sites that you might access on that VPN session or even later – most notably on any site running that BigTech’s ad network or even comment system. And cookies are not the only way of breaching anonymity – characteristics of your computer such as MAC address, app configuration or others could be accessed by the site you signed on to, and then shared with their own network behind the scenes, so you are identified again when you show up on those other sites, regardless of your network layer security.

    Use a VPN by all means, but it has to backed up with application / site level privacy consciousness to be effective. As a start, I’d suggest running Brave and turning on ‘paranoid mode’.

     

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    If all you do is like google searches without being logged into google, or youtube, etc, etc, etc, then it would be anonymized. Other than that, about the best you can say is that your local ISP probably doesn’t know what you’re doing, and if you’re on a public wifi or something then others connected to it wouldn’t be able to snoop on you.

    So if I’m using Brave with a VPN but I’m logged into Google, I’m still sharing a lot of data with Google?

    I’m not sure how much info google can get from your other activities, if you’re using a VPN but logged into google; maybe just as much as if you weren’t using a vpn at all.

    It’s like facebook etc, maybe the VPN keeps them from knowing your current IP, and if you set up your facebook account with a fake location etc – and were able to confirm it without using a credit card or cell phone or something else that gives it away – then facebook etc wouldn’t know where you really are.  But if you logged into your account, they still know it’s you.

    Which is also why it can’t really be effective with something like netflix.  If you signed up with a US address, pay with a US credit card tied to your US address, etc, then if you’re signed into netflix they know you’re really in the US even if your VPN claims somewhere else.  And since you probably can’t use netflix without signing in, what good does a vpn even do?

    • #18
  19. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Which is also why it can’t really be effective with something like netflix.  If you signed up with a US address, pay with a US credit card tied to your US address, etc, then if you’re signed into netflix they know you’re really in the US even if your VPN claims somewhere else.  And since you probably can’t use netflix without signing in, what good does a vpn even do?

    I’ve used a VPN a few times while traveling overseas to watch sporting events from back home.  I logged in using my Comcast account, and it spun for a while and said “sorry, that broadcast is not available in your region.”  Then I fired up my corporate VPN, connected to a server in the U.S., and it happily streamed the A’s playoff game to me.  Worked great, aside from the fact that we lost the game.

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Parler and GETTR are Twitter clones, but with way less content. My favorite of the alternative media platforms is MeWe, which is more like Facebook or Ricochet, structured around groups you join and post content to. There’s even a Castle Ricochet there, though it’s something of an abandoned ruin these days.

    Sorry about that. I need to get in there and do something.

     

     

    • #20
  21. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Oh and regardless of which browser(s) you use, switch your default search engine to something besides Google.  I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for years, recently learned the Brave now runs their own search engine so I’ve been giving that a try.

    • #21
  22. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Which is also why it can’t really be effective with something like netflix. If you signed up with a US address, pay with a US credit card tied to your US address, etc, then if you’re signed into netflix they know you’re really in the US even if your VPN claims somewhere else. And since you probably can’t use netflix without signing in, what good does a vpn even do?

    I’ve used a VPN a few times while traveling overseas to watch sporting events from back home. I logged in using my Comcast account, and it spun for a while and said “sorry, that broadcast is not available in your region.” Then I fired up my corporate VPN, connected to a server in the U.S., and it happily streamed the A’s playoff game to me. Worked great, aside from the fact that we lost the game.

    Yes, but that’s about the opposite of what supporters claim:  they say that you can use a VPN from within the US, to view content that’s only supposed to be for England, Spain, Australia, etc.  But it’s not so.  At least not for services like netflix where you have to set up a paid account, sign in to use it, etc.

    • #22
  23. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Yes, but that’s about the opposite of what supporters claim:  they say that you can use a VPN from within the US, to view content that’s only supposed to be for England, Spain, Australia, etc.  But it’s not so.  At least not for services like netflix where you have to set up a paid account, sign in to use it, etc.

    Right.  Also to the point about it being “morally questionable,” I figured in this case it was content I was already paying (through the nose) for and could have watched legally from any hotel room in the U.S., so blocking me from watching it while overseas just seemed unfair.

    • #23
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):
    I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for years, recently learned the Brave now runs their own search engine so I’ve been giving that a try.

    That confuses me. I just noticed that when I do a search in the Brave search bar things seem all Googly, like it’s piggybacking off of Google.  Maybe I should look in the settings for something.

    • #24
  25. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Yes, but that’s about the opposite of what supporters claim: they say that you can use a VPN from within the US, to view content that’s only supposed to be for England, Spain, Australia, etc. But it’s not so. At least not for services like netflix where you have to set up a paid account, sign in to use it, etc.

    Right. Also to the point about it being “morally questionable,” I figured in this case it was content I was already paying (through the nose) for and could have watched legally from any hotel room in the U.S., so blocking me from watching it while overseas just seemed unfair.

    Yes but Netflix and those guys buy the rights to offer things only in certain countries, for a certain length of time, for a certain cost.

    • #25
  26. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Thank you, sir.

    • #26
  27. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    I really don’t care what Google knows about me, because as far as they can see, I’m a peculiar guy who spends a lot of time marching up and down small towns on Street View, reading their digitized pdfs of ancient irrelevant trade journals, and goes down spiraling Wikipedia rabbit holes about the Nestorian heresy. Sometimes I’m signed in, mostly I’m not. Mostly I’m from California and Dallas; sometimes I’m not. I use their email for a few shopping sites. Whatever they’re learning in order to tailor my ads, they’re doing a lousy job. 

     

    • #27
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):
    I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for years, recently learned the Brave now runs their own search engine so I’ve been giving that a try.

    That confuses me. I just noticed that when I do a search in the Brave search bar things seem all Googly, like it’s piggybacking off of Google. Maybe I should look in the settings for something.

    In the settings, you should be able to select the search engine.

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):
    I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for years, recently learned the Brave now runs their own search engine so I’ve been giving that a try.

    That confuses me. I just noticed that when I do a search in the Brave search bar things seem all Googly, like it’s piggybacking off of Google. Maybe I should look in the settings for something.

    In the settings, you should be able to select the search engine.

    Yes, I found it. Now it’ll search on DuckDuckGo, and hopefully suspect me of being a robot less.

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Google thinks I’m in the Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis and I write a lot of code.

    • #30
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