Are you ready for some alternatives?
January 15, 2021 11:12 AM   Subscribe

aggregator here:
posted by spoh at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2021

Thanks for the links to those lists. It would be helpful to have some context and info about these alternatives. aniola, have you had any experience with any of them?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:28 AM on January 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this; been FB/IG/Twitter/AMA* free for some time and while I've made slight progress with de-Googlefication, that's really the next big one for me. I've reduced my dependence on almost all services Google except for Docs (mostly due to others' needs/expectations), email, and Google Voice. Would LOVE to hear if anyone has suggestions for replacements on the latter, even if paid. I've used it for texting/calling for ages, it's the only number I ever give out, and I use the browser interface almost exclusively since downgrading to a not-smartphone which never gets service out here in the country. Basically something that gives me a phone number that does not need to be linked to an actual phone and a way via laptop that I can make/receive calls and texts?

As with many things, thanks to the MeFi folks over the years that talked about removing or reducing these companies in your lives--it was seeing that others were doing it that gave me the push to do so a few years ago and I'm so glad I did. Living in a country (US) where it feels like they will never be regulated, never be held accountable, and will continue to pervert our digital and non-digital lives in ways I loathe, it feels like opting out (for those of us who have the option/privilege) is the most meaningful way to express dissent against their monopolies and practices.

*[yes, yes, I know AWS--for better or worse, I will probably never try to remove all AWS websites from my life]
posted by youarenothere at 11:35 AM on January 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

The term "the carob internet" just popped into my head.
posted by rhizome at 11:35 AM on January 15, 2021 [29 favorites]

While it’s great to have alternatives, ideally they will have the accessible features that people with disabilities require to effectively engage and communicate with those who may not actively consider the basic requirements of accessibility, which is more than a preference. Many systems incorporate inclusive design, however it’s so wildly uneven, that blanket reminders remain important. It’s been a minute since Jose Saramago suggested what a different type of pandemic is capable of.

People with disabilities also wrestle with data security and privacy. The January 6 ADALive! Podcast on Autonomous systems, especially hearing aid technology is illuminating.
posted by childofTethys at 12:07 PM on January 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

A friend of mine was giving me some advice on degoogling something the other day and I still feel a bit guilty because I think I physically hurt them when I pointed out I was using a google phone, with google cell service, on a google browser, using google email. I admire the folks who do the work and take the steps to reclaim some semblance of online privacy for themselves.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:35 PM on January 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm very interested in replacing those uses of FB/Instagram that I find valuable -- sharing photos of my kids with my extended family, for the most part.
posted by tftio at 12:56 PM on January 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Some good resources for escaping the data hoarders here
posted by signsofrain at 1:25 PM on January 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

DeGoogle lists Bitchute; NoMoreFacebook lists Mewe.

Very disappointing.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 1:29 PM on January 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

How do you do, fellow kids? Is Yahoo e-mail back in fashion yet?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:42 PM on January 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

One thing I'd urge everyone to do is reduce or eliminate your reliance on Gmail for anything important. For a time, I had most of my personal and business accounts with Gmail as my email of contact or as my login id. And then recently started hearing the horror stories of long-term Gmail users getting cut off with very little recourse available since Google apparently doesn't believe in customer service.

Losing my Gmail / Google account would have either put those accounts of mine at risk, or made it impossible to continue using them. Would have been absolutely devastating. I've now migrated everything important to a personal domain. Privacy concerns aside, it feels good to have these things much more under my control. With no worry about Google being mercurial.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:42 PM on January 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

The combination of hearing that google lied about not reading people's email (or using it to feed their ad targeting) plus realizing that way too many online services send password resets through email, got me to get off gmail. I switched to Protonmail a few years ago and never looked back.

I've been using DuckDuckGo for a couple of years now and at this point it's only maybe once every 2 months that I feel I'm not getting good search results and check google directly.

I've had wonderful experiences on Mastodon, which has a community that cares about getting accessibility improvements into the system -- it's easy to find and use tools to describe images, and community members routinely remind people to do this, and there's a system for adding content warnings if you want to post something that you feel might be sensitive. If I'm feeling anxious or overwhelmed and can't handle political discussions right now, I know I can browse through my feed and just not click on the posts that are CW'd with "uspol", for instance. Pixelfed is a nice federated instagram clone, but I don't have enough friends on it to make it feel worthwhile yet, but I keep thinking I might start a server for my knitting friends.

I do have Nextcloud server on Digital Ocean that I use for drive, calendar, and contacts and after initial setup it's been problem-free.

This is a nice list, and I see they link to what I was using for this sort of thing before -- Speaking of social, is great for reading twitter. I subscribe to people via nitter with RSS and at this point I only check twitter maybe once every few months or if something truly alarming is going on. I never post on it, and at this point I'm wondering, actually, why I don't just close my account. Oh right.. I have a redirect to my mastodon account pinned for if people try to look me up there.
posted by antinomia at 3:07 PM on January 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

What's really hard is that here in Amsterdam it seems like nearly every neighborhood is using WhatsApp as a combination Nextdoor/neighborhood watch. As an immigrant I want to make it easy for myself to communicate with my neighbors, but I refuse to put Facebook spyware on my phone. In my previous neighborhood I tried suggesting Signal (you know, it's exactly like WhatsApp but it doesn't send all your data to Zuckerberg), but people are consensus-builders here so no one is going to change until the majority of the neighborhood changes, so instead I end up with one contact who's willing to sms me when something important is going on and I don't hear at all from anyone else. Not ideal.
posted by antinomia at 3:14 PM on January 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have a Nextcloud instance hosted in the cloud that I use for photo sharing, calendar, and file sync. I use PolarisMail for email - can't beat $12/year for a stable email account. They are in Canada if that matters. They have several webmail clients available, plus IMAP/POP. If they've had any downtown in the two years I've used them I didn't notice it. And I've used DDG as my default search engine for years.
posted by COD at 3:31 PM on January 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I sold my soul to Google over a decade ago. I was a beta tester for Chrome OS. They even sent me a CR-48 to lessen the existential pain. My own justification has long been that Google is neither a computer nor a software company. They are an advertising agency. They aggregate web data and sell it for profit. In that regard they are no different than any other capitalist entity. And in return they offer a well designed, functional and secure platform pretty much gratis. As I sit tapping away on my modern Chromebook I really have to wonder why I should churn my own butter when WalMart will deliver it right to my door...
posted by jim in austin at 3:41 PM on January 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Every day I feel better about buying a Pinephone, even if it only mostly works for the basic smartphone stuff.

Meanwhile, I need to get back to changing the email address for all the hundreds of on-line accounts I have that use my old gmail or icloud addresses.

If only OpenStreetMap didn't suck so much.
posted by krisjohn at 3:47 PM on January 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I made the mistake of moving my personal domain to Google. Now, for a variety of reasons I want to move it elsewhere.

I also made the further mistake of ever using a "sign in with Google" button. On some sites there's an option to add a password and if you're lucky unlink your Google account, but several don't have that option, so once I've migrated away from Google —as much as is actually possible— there will be a number of websites where I simply can't access my account on anymore. I've contacted a number of sites through their support channels and got a helpful response from one.

Additionally I will lose all my purchased Android apps. Luckily I never bought any books, movies, or music with that account. I do use YouTube Music, but I should be able to export my playlists and history.

Migrating everything else will be a huge pain, but doable.
posted by thedward at 3:53 PM on January 15, 2021

I too am interested in replicating the key feature of Facebook/WhatsApp - virtually everyone I know already being on the one service. I'm already annoyed that I've had to install WhatsApp alongside messenger. Life was simpler with only one messaging app.
posted by Dysk at 4:18 PM on January 15, 2021

>I've reduced my dependence on almost all services Google except for Docs (mostly due to others' needs/expectations), email, and Google Voice. Would LOVE to hear if anyone has suggestions for replacements on the latter, even if paid.
The LibreOffice fork of Apache is mostly stabilised by Collabora, who produced a web-hosted version called Collabora Online which you can rent from a handful of providers.
posted by k3ninho at 4:19 PM on January 15, 2021

Thanks aniola for the very useful list.

I'm constantly looking for desktop tools wherever possible (I often end up living where the net is variable, tho' that may change now Jacinda's run fibre past my house).

I have 365 for outlook/android and for Access (I can't get libre to open .accdb files). My CRM (insightly) works better with google but am working towards dropping it as it's not being developed since they moved from OZ to the US.

Facebook is (almost) useless at this point but deleting it would mean not being involved in an organic farm forum. Whatsapp I need for a few clients in China.

Twitter is - very useful:a huge waste of time (but many landscape and ecology people).

I have a friend who has some special skills and is in demand; she is listed nowhere and consciously makes herself hard to find, works for her.
posted by unearthed at 6:02 PM on January 15, 2021

I've mostly removed Google from my Android phone and it's working quite well. I have to turn Google Playstore and Services back on when I want to update paid apps, but otherwise, other than some annoying warnings I can't shut off, there haven't been any problems. I do still use Google search because DuckDuckGo can't always compete, but with a privacy browser plus other apps to protect privacy at least it's not such an unlimited data stream from everything all the time.
posted by blue shadows at 6:23 PM on January 15, 2021

unearthed: If you haven't already seen it, one of those links to something that links to... eventually a list of software for going offline.
posted by sibilatorix at 7:54 PM on January 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Using the command !g in front of your DuckDuckGo search term will send your search to Google. I've used DDG for several years and have used this perhaps a dozen times. I understand DDG uses Bing to source their search results, and Bing is supposed to be (a distant) second to Google.
posted by lhauser at 8:02 PM on January 15, 2021

Does !g really work though? I've heard that is just switches over to the regular Google including tracking.
posted by blue shadows at 8:23 PM on January 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

For over a decade now our family has had our own domain name, used only to run a few email addresses. Spending US$40 a year to avoid gmail has been so worth it. Also looks way more professional than

Like others, I have moved away from most social media but FB, simply because all our family and many friends live overseas and all use it and want photos of grandkid, house renovations etc. And I am too lazy to email them all.

Have been using Duckduckgo for years as a search engine to avoid Google.

Fortunately my work doesn't use google docs, never will. As a freelancer I refused to use them. Yes, that meant giving money to Microsoft, but you have to choose between the evils.
posted by Megami at 1:14 AM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

The term "the carob internet" just popped into my head.

I'd rather have the carob internet than the Hersheys internet!

(The Cadbury internet from back when they were utopianist anti-slavery Quakers promoting chocolate as an alternative to alcohol would also be acceptable. But not the modern "we're so ethical, one of our bars comes in a Fair Trade version" Cadbury.)
posted by sibilatorix at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2021

DeGoogle lists Bitchute; NoMoreFacebook lists Mewe.

Very disappointing.

Not a very helpful comment if you don't explain why it's disappointing. Care to elaborate ?
posted by Pendragon at 11:33 AM on January 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

per wikipedia: bitchute is far right, mewe's userbase trends conservative. I didn't know.

Submit issues to the github page for degoogle, and submit issues to no more facebook here.
posted by aniola at 6:34 PM on January 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

The problem with alternatives to facebook, instagram, google docs etc. is that you have to migrate all your friends as well!
I tried getting people to use discord over Zoom and (usualy tech savvy) people couldn’t get their camera to work, couldn’t access the right chatroom etc.
So you end up with frustrated users, having to learn a new interface etc.

Very few people are going to give their time to learning alternative/new ways of doing things, so you’re either still on facebook, google etc because of the fear of losing contact.

I left facebook years ago and haven’t looked back, but if social media worked like email then maybe more people would consider switching platforms.
posted by beesbees at 2:37 AM on January 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Submit issues to the github page for degoogle

You have to login to github (a Microsoft property, incidentally) to submit an issue.

At least they don't list Brave.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Cardinal Fang, do you recommend any alternative carob internets?
posted by aniola at 9:12 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

At this point it feels like social media should be forced to have a banner something like toxic chemicals in California: This product is inherently unsafe and cannot be made safe.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:44 PM on January 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

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