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Author Topic: Google’s Censorship Of Cryptocurrencies Goes Way Beyond YouTube  (Read 252 times)
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January 05, 2020, 02:51:19 PM
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After Youtube recently started taking down cryptocurrency videos, the cryptocurrency community is left to wonder about Google and its views on cryptocurrencies once more.

Though Youtube ultimately ended up saying that its ban of blockchain and cryptocurrency-related videos (including simple tutorials introducing Bitcoin) was an “error” and that all videos would be reinstated, it follows a pattern of hostility towards cryptocurrencies from Google that cannot be ignored.

Start with, for example, Google’s previous ban on cryptocurrency advertising. At the time, Facebook had just banned cryptocurrency advertising as well, meaning the two largest advertising solutions had decided not to offer their monopolistic share of the market to a growing industry — effectively excluding cryptocurrencies from most paid advertising solutions. This ban extended to Adwords solutions on Youtube, keyword searches on Google, and more. Though it was eventually overturned, it showed that Google was watching the space closely and was willing to take quick, harsh decisions based on what they were seeing.

Google then suspended popular Ethereum mobile wallet MetaMask from the Google Play Store, citing “deceptive services” and referring to a financial services policy that among other things, bans the ability to mine cryptocurrency on mobile for Play Store apps and doesn’t allow apps “that expose users to deceptive or harmful financial products and services”.

The MetaMask team appealed the suspension and were turned down almost immediately. Later on, a few days later, Google Play Store reversed that decision without much public explanation — leaving MetaMask to suffer user loss and reputational damage. MetaMask not only serves as a useful digital wallet, it also helps unlock a bunch of decentralized Web3 applications by default (commonly known as DApps), letting users benefit from the decentralized web with little effort on their part. You need a digital wallet to access DApps such as the ones listed here.

The MetaMask team later said the following after the initial suspension: “I very much hope that this was an honest mistake on the part of Google's reviewers, but in combination with all the crypto YouTube bans, it definitely puts me at disease about how Google is engaging with decentralizing technologies. If people accept this behavior from a mobile monopoly like Google, we may not deserve something better.”

Cryptocurrency users can think of many reasons why Google might censor them and the applications they are building. Foremost among them is the fact that many cryptocurrency and decentralized apps go directly against the central business model of Google: capturing digital attention through providing the underlying infrastructure for much of the Web.

This is true from Brave, that while using Chromium, is an alternative browser to Chrome, to distributed video applications such as DTube that are steadily gathering content you don’t have to go to Youtube to browse.

Google has invested heavily in the web as it is built today, served in a centralized fashion from host servers to clients around the world and regulated content when it comes to copyright and other statutes. Asking it to change from that lifeblood towards a more decentralized view of the web through new cryptocurrencies, decentralized applications and protocols like IPFS that flip host-client to a set of flattened peer-to-peer relationships is a bit like asking an oil company to start investing in renewables.

There is also pressure from regulators and legislyyators that Google has to deal with. Its American homebase may have legislators on the fence, though Congressional disapproval of Facebook’s Libra probably did not escape Google’s notice. Less ambiguous is China’s direct and stark directives on cryptocurrencies for its citizens — and Google has proven through Project Dragonfly, a censored version of the Google search engine that was aborted, that it is not above working with the Chinese state to compromise its principles if it means profitability.

Lastly, there are probably people within the company who are split on the matter, and some may lean towards pro or anti-crypto views. With many absorbed in the Silicon Valley ethos, they would have had contact with cryptocurrencies, from Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s son running an Ethereum miner to co-founder Sergey Brin admitting Google wasn’t on the “cutting edge of blockchain” and saying that he and his son, in turn, also mine Ethereum. Yet despite the public views of senior executives, it’s entirely possible that Google employees placed in tactical roles and day-to-day choices on cryptocurrencies might think differently.

It’s clear that Google is acting in a manner that is semi-hostile, at best, to cryptocurrencies, with censorship of key applications, introductory content and advertising options for an emerging technology that might attack its business model and (sometimes) comfortable relationships with legislators. What can be done?

For most developers, the answer will be the standard one: build something better.

Yet, there should be more than that — starting with highlighting why data governance and decentralization matter in the first place and defining what “better” means to the mass of Internet users who don’t really care enough to find out for themselves. Google’s security policies are top-notch, and the company has done well to portray itself as a relatively even-keeled and trustworthy guardian of a trove of user data. However, it is vulnerable in certain places.

Though it currently hosts 92%+ of search volume on the web, technology often shifts rapidly, such as when Chrome took over an exponential amount of volume over Internet Explorer — where in about a decade, it went from 0% usage to nearly 70%, while Internet Explorer made the reverse slide. It could be easy to see how Google might not be as worried about nearest competitor Bing, run through a centralized model from Microsoft they are used to competing with as they might be worried about the much smaller, but more menacing threat of privacy-focused DuckDuckGo.

Google is used to competing with Microsoft, another centralized corporation, by making sure that search quality and infrastructure are up to par — an incumbent advantage Google can maintain almost indefinitely.

But with DuckDuckGo, user demand is intently focused on something Google can’t totally provide and dominate: trust. Trust that Google or any centralized organization will always do right with the data they are being given, trust that now or later bits or bytes might not betray one’s most intimate details to criminal or state-sanctioned oppressors, trust that Google will never have an incentive to broadcast its own content or to censor the content of others for profit.

As it is with DuckDuckGo, so it can be with distributed video, document creation and syndication, and the array of products Google provides. In many ways, the current version of the Internet is a great compromise between users and their eyeballs and the useful services Google provides for that attention. Users accept that their data will end up being used or sold elsewhere for products that save them time and make their lives easier. It is DuckDuckGo and DApps, which question the very nature of that relationship, that represent an existential threat to this model.

Another thread comes up when it comes to the large size of tech giants such as Google. Politicians have spent lots of time trying to confront new Internet realities with old legal frameworks. The truth is that for most end users and consumers of Google products, the traditional anti-trust- monopoly contrast doesn’t quite work because we’re talking about monetizing attention rather than paying for products upfront — so the consumer welfare standard and the exigence of low prices has problems when faced with a model of a giant company looking to provide products for free or near-free monetarily. Many of the costs that might come with concentration of Internet attention and (sometimes) misplaced trust are hard to price, especially in a context where there is no financial price at all for end users.

Yet cryptocurrency builders are facing traditional monopoly problems on the other side of the Google marketplace (Google and Facebook captured 63% of online ad spending in 2017 per a Wharton study) that do conform more closely to traditional anti-trust principles, facing elevated pricing on ads and pricing discrimination or even exclusion of service because there quite simply aren’t very many providers, if any, that can provide the services Google can with advertising beyond Facebook.

If the two coordinate to discriminate against a certain product category, that product category already faces headwinds to succeed. This may not be as politically fraught territory as lowering prices for the average American — but it can be a duopolistic and now anti-cryptocurrency element worth exploring.

A thread that intertwines this all is the amount of political scrutiny faced by Google. Legistators that are pushing hard on Google for dominating data and the Internet may be more amenable to alternative solutions — overcoming some initial skepticism about the cryptocurrency and Web 3.0 movement.

Cryptocurrency and decentralized web advocates should also be wary of how Google responds to a growing trend of data and internet nationalization: either the company will seek to accommodate the stringent demands of different governments in order to get access to balkanized parts of the Internet, or they will seek to ignore those spaces entirely.

Given the profit motive, a combination of the two leaning towards the former for unmissable markets is likely to be the case, meaning that a whole host of centralized nation-state entities (China, Russia and more), some with less checks and balances and pluralism than the United States government, may enter the discussion — to the potential detriment of the cryptocurrency community.

One thing is clear through all of this. The censorship of cryptocurrencies by Google isn’t a one-off event and doesn’t seem very much like an “accident”. It’s a “cold” war at best between two very different visions of the Internet. Google has chosen to contest that new decentralized, peer-to-peer vision rather than adapt to it for now, leaving the potential for future conflict — and censorship — to remain quite high.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerhuang/2020/12/31/googles-censorship-of-cryptocurrencies-goes-way-beyond-youtube/


....


Good write up.

The only angle the author neglected to mention is private sector corporations relying upon offshore tax havens to exploit tax loopholes.

Networks of offshore tax havens are owned and operated by banks, who many would consider to be competitors to emerging technologies like bitcoin. Banks are known to make certain requests in exchange for corporations, celebrities, world leaders and nations making use of their tax haven financial services.

Which could explain google and other private sector entities adopting repressive stances towards bitcoin, on behalf of banks who they rely upon to provide them with access to financial networks allowing them to exploit tax loopholes.

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January 05, 2020, 11:20:39 PM
 #2

Yet cryptocurrency builders are facing traditional monopoly problems on the other side of the Google marketplace (Google and Facebook captured 63% of online ad spending in 2017 per a Wharton study) that do conform more closely to traditional anti-trust principles, facing elevated pricing on ads and pricing discrimination or even exclusion of service because there quite simply aren’t very many providers, if any, that can provide the services Google can with advertising beyond Facebook.

If the two coordinate to discriminate against a certain product category, that product category already faces headwinds to succeed. This may not be as politically fraught territory as lowering prices for the average American — but it can be a duopolistic and now anti-cryptocurrency element worth exploring.


https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerhuang/2020/12/31/googles-censorship-of-cryptocurrencies-goes-way-beyond-youtube/


....
[/quote]


What is interesting is that brave (and therefore cryptocurrencies) is competing to google in both browser and in the advertising industry .

Brave is for now still an unknown browser, used only by cryptocurrency enthusiasts.  But the idea is disruptive.a

Google may see bitcoin as a threat as well. Yesterday I saw a restaurant which accepted payments using Google pay. If the owner only knew that bitcoin is so much better.

The problem is the lack of regulations which is allowing google to do whatever it wants.

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January 05, 2020, 11:48:02 PM
 #3

Which could explain google and other private sector entities adopting repressive stances towards bitcoin, on behalf of banks who they rely upon to provide them with access to financial networks allowing them to exploit tax loopholes.

Cryptobros themselves are largely to blame for the advertising ban. If 99% of them hadn't been pieces of shit that set everyone's money on fire then it wouldn't have happened. Google wouldn't knowingly advertise a non crypto ponzi scheme/flagrant and empty cash grab either. No doubt some have slipped through the net here and there.

Note the conditions for allowing crypto advertising again. You had to convince them that you were a legitimate crypto service. Since almost everything that was advertising previously wasn't that seems perfectly sensible.

We do need to be conscious of becoming too dependent on a small number of private corporations but we also need to be conscious of how disgusting the scene can look from the outside.

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January 06, 2020, 12:00:17 AM
 #4

Which could explain google and other private sector entities adopting repressive stances towards bitcoin, on behalf of banks who they rely upon to provide them with access to financial networks allowing them to exploit tax loopholes.
I don't think a big company like google will look for tax loopholes. Don't they already have a lot of money? I do not understand if they want to do this. It seems impossible in my view.   Embarrassed

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January 06, 2020, 12:03:51 AM
 #5

I don't think a big company like google will look for tax loopholes. Don't they already have a lot of money? I do not understand if they want to do this.

I would class them as tax 'opportunities' rather than loopholes.

Why wouldn't they exploit them? To not do so would be a disservice to their bottom line.

Governments created them. If they don't have the balls to close them or lacked the foresight to see that corporations would dive in then that's on them.

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January 06, 2020, 12:28:39 AM
 #6

Quote
"If people accept this behavior from a mobile monopoly like Google, we may not deserve something better.”

Oh yeah!!  I completely agree with this, and I actually stopped using Google as a search engine months ago.  I'm going to have to wean myself off of Gmail, though, and I may have trouble not watching Youtube videos, but I'm working on it.

Great article, and it's from Forbes no less.  Mainstream press coverage about an issue like this is fantastic IMO.  I can't stand Google anymore, because they've become as bad or worse than Facebook as far as privacy invasion, and for whatever reason people don't seem to care at all. 

Man, the internet used to be so simple back in 1997.  What the hell happened?

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January 06, 2020, 03:33:54 AM
 #7

What is interesting is that brave (and therefore cryptocurrencies) is competing to google in both browser and in the advertising industry. Brave is for now still an unknown browser, used only by cryptocurrency enthusiasts.  But the idea is disruptive. Google may see bitcoin as a threat as well. Yesterday I saw a restaurant which accepted payments using Google pay. If the owner only knew that bitcoin is so much better. The problem is the lack of regulations which is allowing google to do whatever it wants.

Google, Facebook and similar giant entities have become the GODS OF THE INTERNET MARKETPLACE and because they have the power, influence and resources they think they can do anything they wanted. Maybe the time has come to clip their wings not to decapitate them but to reign on their unilateral power to impose just anything they wish for.

These giants are not practicing consensus approach and not even allowing the concern parties to first present their sides on the whole matter. Google has become like the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner.

And that can be bad, very, very bad!

PS: I have been using the Brave browser for the past three months and it is doing well for me so I am encouraging all people in cryptocurrency to also do the same.
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January 06, 2020, 04:34:45 AM
 #8

This is all true, and while there isn't much people can do as individuals, there are some things you can do.

Use Firefox/Brave instead of Chrome.
Use a high quality e-mail address instead of gmail.
Use DuckDuckGo or other high quality search engines instead of google, change your defaults.

There are other things as well. Ultimately, if you complain about Google but continue using their products, that is mostly on you as a walking and talking contradiction.

Be the change you want to see. Will this change the world if you change your stuff? No. But it is one small piece to a huge puzzle and I'd highly suggest anyone reading this take action.




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January 06, 2020, 05:15:00 AM
 #9

Google is no less than facebook in keeping privacy of users. I was thinking whether google will come up with its own cryptocurrency but after all the mess "Libra" created, it will be far from making one.

People still dont know about Brave. It has everything which Chrome has and works better in my opinion. But for mail and video streaming there is little to none competition for Google.

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January 06, 2020, 05:35:21 AM
 #10

The writer of this article is so right when he says that Google acting in a manner that is semi-hostile, they act like a bully here and trying to make us feel that Google is the demigod of the internet, the community should be in a hurry to look for a much better alternative and the time is right, I support Dtube on their goal to create a better alternative to Youtube made for Cryptocurrency community.

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GEOMA DAO


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Wind_FURY
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January 06, 2020, 07:51:28 AM
 #11

Which could explain google and other private sector entities adopting repressive stances towards bitcoin, on behalf of banks who they rely upon to provide them with access to financial networks allowing them to exploit tax loopholes.

Cryptobros themselves are largely to blame for the advertising ban. If 99% of them hadn't been pieces of shit that set everyone's money on fire then it wouldn't have happened. Google wouldn't knowingly advertise a non crypto ponzi scheme/flagrant and empty cash grab either. No doubt some have slipped through the net here and there.

Note the conditions for allowing crypto advertising again. You had to convince them that you were a legitimate crypto service. Since almost everything that was advertising previously wasn't that seems perfectly sensible.

We do need to be conscious of becoming too dependent on a small number of private corporations but we also need to be conscious of how disgusting the scene can look from the outside.


Didn't YouTube reverse the ban on content for cryptocurrencies? Yes, I believe the cryptobros' content included.

Google is no less than facebook in keeping privacy of users. I was thinking whether google will come up with its own cryptocurrency but after all the mess "Libra" created, it will be far from making one.

People still dont know about Brave. It has everything which Chrome has and works better in my opinion. But for mail and video streaming there is little to none competition for Google.


Don't be naive. After witnessing the birth, and some success that Bitcoin has, and its possbilities? Google unquestionably wants its own cryptocurrency/"blockchain".

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January 06, 2020, 08:45:50 AM
 #12

Should've TL;DR. Though overall, a good read. Certainly an eye-opener to what could be the deeper reasons why such censorship happens, and explains the implications beyond only those reasons that we obviously see right now. Google has been really the face of the internet, and thus being challenged with a decentralized framework is hurting Google's monopoly with their business model.

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January 07, 2020, 05:10:45 PM
 #13

I don't think a big company like google will look for tax loopholes. Don't they already have a lot of money? I do not understand if they want to do this. It seems impossible in my view.   Embarrassed


I tried to find you a source for that.   Smiley

Quote
Google reportedly has $60.7 billion in overseas revenue it has yet to repatriate for fears it would lose too much of it to US taxes, which are set at 35 percent for corporations. That means the money must stay overseas. That arrangement may change in the months and years to come, however, as the new tax bill passed by the House and Senate last month is aimed at pleasing corporations and the wealthy. The new law sets a more generous minimum tax rate on overseas profits and offers companies a less burdensome path toward bringing that money home on a regular basis at greatly reduced rates.

That means Apple, Google, and others may bring more money home, yet still enjoy many of the benefits these tax loopholes have afforded them for decades now. Of course, there is no clear indication that businesses will reinvest that money into domestic manufacturing, hiring, or any other of the intended recipients of the profit windfall being handed to corporate America. Some companies have made strategic use of the PR opportunity to publicly celebrate the tax bill with $1,000 bonuses to employees.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/2/16842876/google-double-irish-tax-loopholes-european-billions-ad-revenue


There's a school of thought which claims the wealthy and large corporations pay taxes: as long as tax rates are deemed as being fair.

The second taxes are deemed too high: tax evasion becomes the norm.

These observations run counter intuitive to how taxes are portrayed by the media. In that tax cuts could carry the potential to boost overall tax revenues via cutting down on overall cases of tax evasion.

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STOP SNITCHIN'


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January 07, 2020, 10:55:45 PM
 #14

Which could explain google and other private sector entities adopting repressive stances towards bitcoin, on behalf of banks who they rely upon to provide them with access to financial networks allowing them to exploit tax loopholes.

I don't think this is about banks. It's not even so much about cryptocurrencies.

Google is much more threatened by decentralized apps like MetaMask and DTube than anything else. That's the primary takeaway for me. Google's entire model is to monetize the underlying internet infrastructure. Now, the infrastructure is being built to make Google obsolete.

If dapps can keep building sleeker UI and building on their network effects, they are much more likely to give Google a run for their money than competitors like Microsoft.

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January 07, 2020, 11:14:51 PM
 #15

This is all true, and while there isn't much people can do as individuals, there are some things you can do.

Use Firefox/Brave instead of Chrome.
Use a high quality e-mail address instead of gmail.
Use DuckDuckGo or other high quality search engines instead of google, change your defaults.

There are other things as well. Ultimately, if you complain about Google but continue using their products, that is mostly on you as a walking and talking contradiction.

Be the change you want to see. Will this change the world if you change your stuff? No. But it is one small piece to a huge puzzle and I'd highly suggest anyone reading this take action.

Done some if it already!

I stopped using Gmail back in November, I changed to ProtonMail.
I never used Chrome, I despise it, I have always used Firefox as a browser.
Never a massive fan of Youtube, too addictive but handy for repair work on the car!

Will check out DuckDuckGo

I enjoyed that OP, anyone got suggestions for an alternative to android?
hello_good_sir
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January 08, 2020, 01:14:42 AM
 #16

Their stances are obviously in their own interests - otherwise, why take them out of ads that could be otherwise generating revenue for their company?

Expect other search engines (except for a few like Duckduckgo, who truly care about privacy and all that) to follow suit as a matter of time, in my opinion.

Google's censorship is honestly disgusting given the circumstances - and they call themselves innovative somehow.

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theskillzdatklls
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January 08, 2020, 04:06:03 AM
Merited by aoluain (1)
 #17

This is all true, and while there isn't much people can do as individuals, there are some things you can do.

Use Firefox/Brave instead of Chrome.
Use a high quality e-mail address instead of gmail.
Use DuckDuckGo or other high quality search engines instead of google, change your defaults.

There are other things as well. Ultimately, if you complain about Google but continue using their products, that is mostly on you as a walking and talking contradiction.

Be the change you want to see. Will this change the world if you change your stuff? No. But it is one small piece to a huge puzzle and I'd highly suggest anyone reading this take action.

Done some if it already!

I stopped using Gmail back in November, I changed to ProtonMail.
I never used Chrome, I despise it, I have always used Firefox as a browser.
Never a massive fan of Youtube, too addictive but handy for repair work on the car!

Will check out DuckDuckGo

I enjoyed that OP, anyone got suggestions for an alternative to android?

Awesome! Smiley

There's many quality search engines to choose from depending how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.
Examples: https://www.privacytools.io/providers/search-engines/


When it comes to cell phones, the best technology out there that I'm aware of is this company:
https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

If you simply want to change your OS on the phone you already own to something new, I'd suggest looking here:
https://www.privacytools.io/operating-systems/#mobile_os
There's a few to pick from depending on your tastes/needs.


And full disclosure: I don't have any affiliation with the above websites, I'm simply trying to give you the best advice. Privacy tools is a 100% affiliate-free and donation supported website.

If you or anyone else needs help to stray away from the dark side over to the light simply reply here and I'll let you know if I can help in any way.




.




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Hydrogen
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January 08, 2020, 04:54:11 PM
 #18

I don't think this is about banks. It's not even so much about cryptocurrencies.

Google is much more threatened by decentralized apps like MetaMask and DTube than anything else. That's the primary takeaway for me. Google's entire model is to monetize the underlying internet infrastructure. Now, the infrastructure is being built to make Google obsolete.


It could help to remember bittorrent is one of the oldest and largest decentralized apps of all time. 30% of total internet bandwidth was credited as being bittorrent traffic in past years. I don't remember google ever waging a war against them. Google's primary revenue stream is derived from search engine advertisement income (adsense). Which decentralized apps pose no threat to.

Digging a little beneath the surface, we might identify reasons the "google hates decentralized apps" rhetoric could fail to pan out.

One might say the underlying motive for centralized markets and technology, parallel cashless society paradigms. Having centralized energy, food, financial, technology networks leaves markets easier to control for ruling elites.

Banks represent one of the primary impetus behind a push for a cashless society. Perhaps in google's opposition to decentralized technologies we see banker cartel motives being manifest. If you know that using banker owned and operated tax shelters as rich and wealthy CEOs typically do, come with certain strings attached.

aoluain
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January 08, 2020, 07:31:41 PM
 #19

This is all true, and while there isn't much people can do as individuals, there are some things you can do.

Use Firefox/Brave instead of Chrome.
Use a high quality e-mail address instead of gmail.
Use DuckDuckGo or other high quality search engines instead of google, change your defaults.

There are other things as well. Ultimately, if you complain about Google but continue using their products, that is mostly on you as a walking and talking contradiction.

Be the change you want to see. Will this change the world if you change your stuff? No. But it is one small piece to a huge puzzle and I'd highly suggest anyone reading this take action.

Done some if it already!

I stopped using Gmail back in November, I changed to ProtonMail.
I never used Chrome, I despise it, I have always used Firefox as a browser.
Never a massive fan of Youtube, too addictive but handy for repair work on the car!

Will check out DuckDuckGo

I enjoyed that OP, anyone got suggestions for an alternative to android?

Awesome! Smiley

There's many quality search engines to choose from depending how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.
Examples: https://www.privacytools.io/providers/search-engines/


When it comes to cell phones, the best technology out there that I'm aware of is this company:
https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

If you simply want to change your OS on the phone you already own to something new, I'd suggest looking here:
https://www.privacytools.io/operating-systems/#mobile_os
There's a few to pick from depending on your tastes/needs.


And full disclosure: I don't have any affiliation with the above websites, I'm simply trying to give you the best advice. Privacy tools is a 100% affiliate-free and donation supported website.

If you or anyone else needs help to stray away from the dark side over to the light simply reply here and I'll let you know if I can help in any way.

Thank you for those links, its something I am going to have to put
some research into for changing from android.

But it dies go to show that even google's android can be swapped
for a more privacy related option.

I have come across 'Cyanogen' being mentioned before, never looked
into it though.

"LineageOS is a free and open-source operating system for smartphones and tablets, based on the official releases of the Android Open Source Project. It is the continuation of the CyanogenMod project."
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January 08, 2020, 07:53:10 PM
 #20

I agree, it's a good article. I knew about the bans and restrictions mentioned there before reading, though. Perhaps the situation isn't that bad. For one, I don't think of Google and Facebook as very different companies. And since Facebook is exploring crypto technology, it might be only a matter of time until Google does. Moreover, like the article said some of the people very close to the top of the company acknowledge cryptos and even use them. I think that this also gives hope. Then again, perhaps someone will manage to succeed globally with decentralised platforms, and current tech giants will adapt or die.

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