Divorcing Google, Part 1

April 25, 2021

I rely on a lot of Google products, and I’ve generally found that they do what I want them to and I don’t have to think about them. There are a variety of reasons to migrate away from them, especially having to do with privacy. But up to now, letting Google have my data has been a bargain that I’ve been willing to make.

But then this happened a few months ago—a well-known game developer was locked out of their entire Google account, with no recourse except to tweet about it. For me this underlined, highlighted, and circled in Sharpie how truly terrible Google can be to its users. Sprinks (the developer) was banned from all his accounts for a terms of service violation on his Youtube account. This included Gmail, all Google apps, and thousands of dollars of purchases on their Google account. All this happened with barely any justification in what was likely to be a mistake.

I figured this was as good a warning sign as any, and it was time to stop relying on Google as much as possible in my personal life. That’s… not an easy transition to make. I rely on several Gmail accounts, use Google Maps constantly, own a phone designed by Google connected to Google’s telecom service, browse Youtube a lot, have a decade’s usage of Google Drive, coordinate with friends and family using Google Calendar, use Chrome as one of my daily web browsers, and since I’m a programmer I find it impossible to not use Google Search. It would be quite a challenge for me to never use a Google product or service again.

But I don’t need to not use anything made by Google. I just want to not rely on the company for anything that’s critical for me. And you know what? It might be nice to switch to services that don’t track and commoditize my actions.

a blog by Rowan Copley about fantasy data systems, unhelpful simulations, echoes from the future, and the strange ways that the digital world manifests in the real