Divorcing Google

Divorcing Google

February 28, 2012 4:41 pm 0 comments


I’ve been a big fan of Google for a long time. I remember discovering the search engine as a kid before it was popular, and I’ve followed the company’s explosive growth. The tools they’ve created have been incredibly useful and innovative – from Google Docs to Gmail to Books. But today, I started the divorce process.

As Google has grown, they’ve gotten further and further from the ideals that made them so attractive. I gave them a pass when they decided to censor searches in China, choosing to take their word that providing some access to information was better than none. I defended them when it became apparent that bots were scanning our emails to surface relevant ads. After all, these tools are free and Google has to make money somehow. But the Android phone was a turning point.

I bought a Nexus S, and I admit that I love it. It is stylish, syncs well with all of the major applications on the web that I use frequently, and free turn-by-turn navigation is awesome. The problem is that Google is taking massive amounts of data from my mobile use. Of course, this is no different from what they are doing with my use of their web applications, right? Wrong. You see, I paid a lot of money for this Nexus S. I traded money for a product, so I shouldn’t have to give away my data. On the web, I am given free tools so I expect Google to display ads to make money. But that isn’t fair on an Android device. If they want my data, they have to subsidize the cost of the phone.

I’ve also watched Google mismanage Google+, taking an awesome product with some fantastic features and shove it down the throats of users. They’ve biased their search results shamelessly. And they’ve all but forced Google users to join a network that no one has a need for.

And what put me over the edge was the revelation that Google is changing their policy on personal data so that users won’t be allowed to delete their own data anymore. I’m sorry, but that is in fact evil. Regardless of what the fine print says, it is my data – it is information about my relationship, career, habits, behavior, personality, etc. that is being hijacked as I am pushed out of the equation.

I won’t do it.

So, today I started the process of separating from Google. I’ve moved most of the websites and applications I use over to an email address associated with this blog, I deleted my Google+ account altogether, and I’ve changed the default search engine in my browser to Bing (until a reliable alternative emerges).

Of course, after years of integrating my online life with Google very intimately, this divorce will take time. I cannot immediately delete my Gmail account. And I am unwilling to completely ignore YouTube as I personally believe it is one of the best social networks available. But the process has begun.

It is a sad day, but I think Google has gotten too big to do good.

I hope they fail.

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