I deleted Google from my life, and I can show you how to do it, too.
After being a devoted Googler for many years, I realized putting all my data on one platform had its downsides. A couple of factors in particular drove me to make a clean break.
Deleting Google for privacy and security
The appeal of escaping Google comes down to privacy. Google collects an alarming amount of data about you. It’s safe to say that if you’re not a paying customer then you’re the product being sold, and that’s Google’s business model.
Security goes hand-in-hand with that. I’m sure Google’s servers are closely guarded, but I still didn’t want all my data to be concentrated in one place.
To Google’s credit, the company gives you tools to opt out of the give-us-your-private-data-for-our-services game altogether. We cover the basics in these two articles:
How to download your Google data so you can see what’s being recorded.
How to delete your Google data to protect yourself.
Deleting Google for social impact
Another reason to get rid of Google is make your choice as a consumer for a healthier, more responsible media. As a working journalist, I’m acutely aware that Google and Facebook jointly dominate the media distribution and discovery landscape. With no strong competitors to Google Search in particular, Google’s algorithms hold unprecedented sway over the discourse in our society.
The importance of search discovery means that publishers and journalists must write stories to match the queries typed in by readers. That means coverage is guided by readers’ preconceived notions about a news event, not by objective reporting. That’s a deeply disturbing state of affairs for any democratic society.
Google outwardly seems as dedicated to responsible stewardship as one could hope, but it’s still concerning enough to merit supporting alternatives and competitors.
How my Google-free experiment started
When I decided to drop Google, I had just left a full-time job at a company that used Google mail and other apps. I stopped using all Google products while I freelanced. Note: If you’re an Android user, this is basically a no-go. Fortunately, I use a combination of Windows PCs, Macs, and iOS devices, so I wasn’t trapped.
Everyone uses Google differently, but I focused on forgoing the services that are core to the experience: Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Maps, and Search.
Dropping Gmail was easier than expected. I tried Yahoo! Mail, but there were too many ads for my taste. The web interface for Apple Mail at icloud.com was just adequate. I found Microsoft’s overhauled Outlook web interface (and truly excellent mobile app) was the best alternative.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.