Taking Your Online Life Back From Mega Companies

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As the cancel culture picks up steam, large monopolies are silencing the voices of roughly half of the American population (those who support conservative principles). For decades we have been increasing our dependency on a few very large companies including: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter to name a few, but at what cost?

You might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of moving away from what feels so comfortable and familiar, but we have seen that these large companies have too much control over our lives. We will examine your options to protect your privacy, take back your freedom and flexibility in a wide variety of technologies we use in our lives today.

Operating Systems 

The operating system of your computer is the software that connects the user to the hardware in a way that allows your computer to function. Whether you use a Microsoft Windows and Apple Macbook computer you are tied into one of two major companies. However, you have options – the Linux operating system used to be limited to techie types, but now there are several distributions (flavors) some designed for new users, some which are perfect for gamers, and more options for a wide variety of computer users. Linux has a look (graphical user interface) similar to Windows or MacOs – in fact, the MacOs is built on top of Linux itself. This webpage discusses the top 18 Linux distributions for 2021. 

Social Media

A number of my social media friends have announced they are moving away from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and perhaps others. Social media sites have made the world a smaller place by connecting friends, family, and serving as a tribute those we have lost. When someone is unexpectedly removed from a social media site, they aren’t just losing their ability to share their thoughts and opinions – they lose the ability to remain connected with those friends and family who might live a world apart. They also may lose treasured memories, messages, pictures and videos that mean the world to them.

For conservatives and those who feel that a company should not have that much power over someone who simply disagrees with them politically, their movement to alternative social media sites which welcome them helps to preserve and protect their freedom and their treasured memories, but how does someone accomplish the move to another social media site and what options exist?

First, let’s better understand the reach of each of the major social media players. From the chart below, it is clear that Facebook has the largest reach approaching 3 billion users.

What other social media options exist? Let’s take a look at several options:

MeWe: Is an alternative for Facebook and is an easy option for those wanting to leave Facebook. MeWe is growing very fast and has a lot of great features: a familiar look and feel to Facebook, is free to use (although premium options exist), has groups, and pages (for a small fee).

Rumble: Is an alternative for YouTube. Entrepreneur has identified Rumble as one of the Four Video Platforms Attempting to Challenge YouTube’s Dominance and has said, “Rumble also allows creators, brands and distributors the ability to custom-brand the 4k video player, adding their own logo and styling and offering the ability to turn to choose whether or not ads will be shown on the video, or who’s ads will be shown.” The Rumble video player is reportedly faster than their competition.

Signal: Is an alternative to Facebook chat. If you want to speak freely with an option that is independent of the large tech companies, you should check out Signal there is a lot of power reasons to use this free option.

Parler: Was an alternative to Twitter until Amazon and Google removed their app from their app stores and AWS (Amazon’s hosting arm) removed the Parler website with only 24 hours notice. Parler is saying they will be back, better and stronger than before.

WebTalk: Offering a unique social media option in several ways, Webtalk is gaining popularity. Webtalk combines a contact relationship management (CRM) component that allows the user to organize their contacts as personal or business and also better controls what content is seen by different contacts. Many people have experienced concerns of sharing personal content with business relationships and vice versa. When you write a post on Webtalk with the click of a button you can share the content on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn without visiting those sites directly.

Most people have invested many years building a following on one or more of largest social media sites and understand they need to be where their customers and potential customers can find them. (friends and family) There is a middle ground frequently not being considered.

Before you remove your Facebook account, you might consider keeping your account active and simply posting links to the social media you use going forward.

If you own a Facebook business page or Facebook group, you might not want to lose all the connections and reach you have managed to build to switch fully to another social media site. Additionally, if you are planning to leave Facebook, you should consider making a backup of your Facebook content before you remove your account. This site will show you how to backup and download your Facebook data step by step. Even if you plan to stay with Facebook, a backup of your data is never a bad idea – just in case.  Seeing the information Facebook has collected about you is likely a very eye-opening experience.

Internet Browsers

What are you using to browse the internet? Most people use Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer (Edge), Firefox, and Apple Safari, but if you are wanting to break away from the large companies and protect your privacy, you should consider the Brave browser. The brave browser is completely compatible with Google Chrome and Chrome plugins while blocking ad trackers and unwanted advertising. I’ve been using the Brave browser for a few days with no problems and the image below is from my personal use.

Search Engines

Google not only refers to the company, but is frequently used as the de facto way to find something on the internet … “We Google it.” Once again, you have options including Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo owned by Verizon, but you should try DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo offers web search capabilities much like Google, but helps to protect your privacy by not collecting and storing your personal information. Best of all, DuckDuckGo works great with the Brave browser.

Email

You might be currently using Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, or one of several other webmail options; however, if you wanted more privacy and security, you should take a hard look at Protonmail. Protonmail is based in Switzerland and offers a long list of impressive security features. ProtonMail offers a feature to expire and delete emails if the sender chooses the option on the email.

ProtonMail’s website states, “ProtonMail was founded in 2013 by scientists who met at CERN and were drawn together by a shared vision of a more secure and private Internet.”

If you are interested in changing the webmail you use, don’t delete you email account right away. First setup your new email service (like Protonmail), backup your current emails, and make sure you are not using the original email for a variety of online account access. You can also forward the emails from your original webmail to your new email to make the transition easier.

Cell Phones

The overwhelming majority of people either use Apple iPhones or Google Android phones, but there are additional options. Here are 4 options that are based on the Linux operating system that helps protect your privacy:

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Fairphone

Pinephone

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Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is used to store everything from documents, pictures, videos, and any other type of information which could also be stored on your computer. Cloud storage can be used to back up your important files and share them with people of your choice when you want to share the files. Cloud storage providers include: Dropbox, Google OneDrive, Apple iCloud, and Box. Once again there are many additional options this site provides details on several options.

Voice over IP

Many people use Google Voice for free – you have a phone number associated with the service that your friends, family and business contacts use. As you have learned through this article, you have options here also. This article outlines 20 alternatives for Google Voice and other voice over IP services.

Conclusion

There are a lot of technology options, but where should you start? After using most of these options myself, I would suggest downloading, installing and using the Brave browser. It is an easy, comfortable replacement for Google Chrome and will be a step in the right direction which offers immediate benefits. When you configure the Brave browser, choose DuckDuckGo as your search engine. From there, sign up for the different social media options – see what you like and what you don’t like. MeWe will feel very comfortable and familiar for Facebook users. Finally, setup a free Proton Mail account and give it a test drive.

To further explore these topics and learn more about your options, keep an eye out for my upcoming eBook.

John Backer has worked in the technology industry for over 30 years including 10 years at IBM and currently is the Director of Business Development at Zinatt Technologies, Inc. You can connect with John through the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/backer.john
Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnbacker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnbacker
MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/johnbacker1
WebTalk: https://www.webtalk.co/john.backer
Proton Mail: Backer.john@Protonmail.com

About John Backer 25 Articles
John Backer is an expert in cyber-security with over 30 years experience in the field. A popular activist in southern Arizona, Mr. Backer is often heard on local radio.