Don’t bother to boycott Google! You can’t win!
You’d have to get an iPhone, because most smartphones run Android. You’d have to avoid YouTube and websites that embed YouTube videos. You’d also have to do some research, because Google runs not-so-obviously under the hood of many products. The search bar on many websites is secretly powered by Google. Uber uses Google Maps, although it’s trying to build its own version. You’d have to avoid a lot of websites or use an ad blocker, because tons of websites use Google’s AdSense network to support themselves. You’d have to check whether your employer uses Google Apps.
Then, you’d have to check the long list of companies owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which is aiming to be the alpha and the omega. If you come across a Wi-Fi kiosk in any of 16 major cities, run the other way — it’s probably Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs. Oh, and you also may not be able to drive, because Sidewalk Labs is working on using city data to program traffic lights. OH! And you may not be able to walk on the sidewalk, because Sidewalk Labs wants to power smart street lights, too.
This isn’t to crow about how Google’s progressive attitudes will prevail over conservative ones. Its ubiquity, and the power that comes with it, is terrifying. I feel like I can still quit Facebook, but I can’t quit Google. And even if I did, it would have no effect. The people calling for a boycott misunderstand not just Google’s scale, but the mechanism of its power. If you’re a Google search user, you have no buying power. You are not the customer. You are not always right. You are the product, and you are just one of billions. If you fall off the back of the truck, you’ll simply be written off.
This writer is forgetting something rather important: if you don’t have anything to sell, you don’t have any customers. Google and companies like it are in the interesting position that their products are capable of walking away.
I had switched over to DuckDuckGo some time before the whole Google Memo thing happened. Now, thanks to the big G brilliantly killing and then restoring Dr. Peterson’s account, I don’t think I want to trust them with my data. We log into email accounts every day. They contain all kinds of important information. If suddenly one day my gmail account is gone, what am I supposed to do? Kick myself for not downloading everything and backing up thousands of emails?
So that’s exactly what I’ve done. Downloaded everything. And I’ve been researching alternatives to Google services. There’s a lot of other webmail out there. Other cloud storage. Other ways of collaborating over the internet. I despair of there ever being a usable video site but once Google bans everybody like Razorfist and Mister Metokur, there won’t be any point of going to Youtube anyway.
We might not be able to simply, easily, or quickly extract ourselves from Google’s grasp but why should you continue being a product when you don’t have to be?