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The technology is good as long as it helps us! But the big corporations and those behind them demonstrate to be working consequently against humanity.

Among other aspects, we are constantly harvested, data and metadata are collected, analyzed and used for all sort of purposes (including training of AI).

Despite this, it is still possible to avoid giving up the good side of the technology. It is crucial though, to be informed and actively claim and retain our independence in the digital world, as we should do in the real one.

In general, the level of understanding and knowledge about IT and technology (alphabetization) is embarrassingly low, most probably by design, one reason more to try to get educated, starting with ourselves and those we care.

The most used communication platforms are still Skype and Teams (Microsoft), Messenger and WhatsApp (Meta), Zoom, FaceTime (Apple), Discord, Google's Meet, Hangouts and Duo... even many schools force the students to use such tools. They are the most popular and also the most despicable ones. Even Telegram and Signal, passed off as safe(r), are collecting data and forcing users to register with a telephone number, and they don't clarify what happens server-side.

Fortunately there are intelligent and nice people that create alternatives! These systems and apps can be hosted and run practically by anyone anywhere, they are open-source, mostly free and very data-friendly.

  • Element is an advanced chat platform with end-to-end encryption for private and public (group) communication, suitable also for communities and organizations. It works on most of the web browsers and the app can be installed on any OS (Linux, Mac OS, Windows, iOS and Android). It is one of the various applications built to work with and within the protocol, and it can well substitute among others: WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord and Skype.
  • Jitsi is an audio/video conference software that works from any web browser and its app version exists for Android and iOS. It can well be compared to Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft's Teams. It became unfortunately less privacy friendly due to some pressures, but it can still be self-hosted and there are still instances freely available that do not require any email or other data.

Searching and surfing the web
For many, "to google" has even become a verb (that supposedly means "to search the web"). The problem is, that a search engine should not filter, prioritize, censor and manipulate its results, as Google, Bing or Yahoo do. If the removal of such verb is an educational task, the use of better search engines is much more simple and action can be taken within seconds:

  • StartPage and Yandex are probably, and at the moment, a viable alternative to the major search engines
  • DuckDuckGo seemed ok at first, but there are some doubts about its legitimacy and more research needs to be done
  • Qwant could also be fine, if it was not being influenced by the European laws (not to be trusted/supported by default)

Talking about browsing the web,

  • Firefox and Brave (built on Chromium) are good substitutes for the various Chrome (Google), Edge (Microsoft) and Safari (Apple) and they are available for any Operative System, desktop or mobile. An internet browser can help to avoid sending all sort of data to undesirable hands. There are more privacy-friendly alternatives, like LibreWolf or Mullvad (with Tor integration).

Facebook (Meta) and X (Twitter) are probably still the only alternatives in many people's mind, but they are more and more involved into censorship and open promotion of various kind of agendas and propaganda, if this was in fact not their original intent. Again, there are valuable alternatives it is definitely worth enforcing, that could be called "real social networks".

  • The Fediverse is an heterogeneous system of decentralized social platforms, all interconnected with each other. The most known names among them are Mastodon, Friendica, Diaspora, GNU Social, Hubzilla and PeerTube (that is also a video-sharing platform itself)

Video platforms
YouTube (owned by Google) and Vimeo are still giants among video sharing platforms, but they totally conform with the other corporation-owned platforms when it comes to censorship and propaganda. Therefore and again there are very good reasons to leave them, and there are many ways to do so:

Personal cloud
The same said above about other aspects of our digital life is true for our data storage and sharing. The "cloud", if it can be indeed convenient (permitting to access our data from anywhere and with several devices) is also an other way to put our "stuff" in other people's hands! And what is being done with it, it is not easy to know (or is it?). That's why the various iCloud (Apple), Google Drive, OneDrive (Microsoft) or Dropbox, to mention just few very common solutions, are not to be trusted.

  • NextCloud can be hosted on a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or on physical computers -even on a Raspberry PI!- and gives the comfort of the cloud services with the advantage of total control on the data. It is a fork of OwnCloud and it is well maintained and rich in functions and extensions. It manages contacts and calendars as well!

The digital life is not just pictures and music! Today it is also money, credit cards, bank accounts, health and much more! And these aspects suffer the very same problems mentioned already above. Here some ways to face the current reality and start claiming some degree of independence.
OpenBazaar was a decentralised marketplace where anyone could buy, sell or exchange anything anywhere. Unfortunately it has been dismissed.

  • Particl is an example of marketplace, in this case with integrated crypto currency. Still in development.
  • AgoristMarket is an example of project aiming to put offer and demand in free connection, without mediation or speculation, following the Agorist philosophy.
  • Monero is so far a particularly privacy oriented crypto currency (BitCoin is definitely not the only one! nor particularly privacy safe, if not used in certain ways), as a possible way to own money instead of being owned by it.

Operative Systems
The system driving your computer, smartphone and tablet can also be used to collect all sort of information from the users. Apple computers ship with Mac OS, most of the other machines with Windows (Microsoft), smartphones and tablets ship with Android or iOS. But there is at least an alternative, welcome to the world of Linux!
Years ago it was not for everyone to have a distribution of Linux running as the "daily driver". But today things are different! Most of the Linux distributions (often shortened to "distros") can be installed with a fully automated process, where the user needs just to download an image file, transfer it to a USB stick (using for example Balena Etcher) and boot the computer from the stick.
The advantages of GNU/Linux over the other system are:

  • it's Open Source (you know what's behind it)
  • it's mostly free
  • it's users/community maintained for most of the distros
  • clear policies for privacy and data
  • fast and light
  • can run on older hardware with astonishing results
  • can be personalised and look the way you like

Talking about mobile devices, there's not much you can do if you own an iPhone or an iPad. The system (iOS) is totally closed and under Apple's control, and tons of data, including geolocation, metadata and even elements from your own pictures and videos, are sent to Apple constantly. On the side of Android, if a normal phone is in Google's hands, there's more that can be done, I discuss it on my "de-googled devices" page.

Special thanks to the PrivacyGuides team.