How can I avoid Facebook, Google and Amazon?
August 28, 2017 1:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I replace Facebook, Google and Amazon while retaining their functions?

Apparently nearly all internet time and money is hoovered up by Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. I don't want to help build monopolies, and i don't want to narrow my world experience to their filter. I'd like to pay conscious attention to not lazily following the flow. What reasonable alternatives would people suggest?
In particular, how can i both pay authors and not fund Amazon's tax evasion (DRM epubs can't be read on Kindle - i tried the apprentice alf in calibre thing and it didn't work); message people on a smartphone in facebook, whatsapp or email (there is software like Pidgin and Thunderbird for computers); and stop spending my life on Youtube? (I want scummy stuff like russian trucks and pop music, Vimeo may be too highbrow...)
For example: i used to never log in to facebook but solely read and replied to messages via email via Thunderbird. I don't want to join Diaspora, because i can't use that to reply to the facebook messages i get from people in my real world. I can't withdraw from them, but don't want to give them all my time.
Can just about download and apply codecs and extract and run tarballs.
posted by maiamaia to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
DRM epubs won't work on a Kindle, but Apprentice Alf can remove the DRM (can remove Adobe DRM, maybe not Kepub) and then Calibre can convert them to Mobi to be sideloaded onto a Kindle. (MeMail me if you'd like to talk details.)

I can't advise on how to get away from Facebook; I have managed to just never get an account. (Every six months or so I think, "Oh, but there's that terrific stuff on FB," and then I wait a week and some new report comes out about how they're being horrible.)

I do Dreamwidth and Tumblr for social online. Dreamwidth is awesome but slow; Tumblr is a dumpster fire in process and I'm enjoying the memes and occasional breathtaking insights while waiting for its inevitable collapse when Verizon realizes there really isn't a way to monetize it.

You can cut back on money going to the big software companies by getting solid adblocker software and/or using privacy settings for browsing; there really isn't anything comparable to YouTube - and there's not going to be, because video hosting and streaming is expensive. But there are plenty of music-oriented sites (Soundcloud, 8Tracks, Spotify, etc.), and there may be sites that hit your particular interests for videos.

Getting away from the powerhouse companies means rearranging your entire online-ing experience; you have to be (1) devoted to the change and (2) willing to be isolated from your friends, who are not going to leave because you do.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:23 PM on August 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Honestly, this is really, really hard. Are you using an Android or iOS device? If so... well a) which one because recmmendations for specific apps will be different but b) I'm not sure it matters too much which email client you're using.

Amazon is actually going to be among the hardest to avoid, because at this point I think the majority of internet traffic runs through AWS (Amazon Web Services) in some way or another. Netflix, for example, relies on Amazon. Looking at the last comment and doing some googling, Tumblr, Soundcloud, and 8Tracks all use AWS while Spotify used to but recently switched to Google's Cloud Storage solution.

It's true that adblocking will remove a lot of Google's (especially) revenue, since they basically own Display ads on the web, but it will also remove a lot of revenue for individual sites you visit, who also rely on that revenue to run their businesses - you'd be hurting both the big guys and the little guys (and the little guys would feel it more - I work for a web publisher, ad blocking is a real serious problem for our ability to, like, pay the people that write the content).

But if your goal is "I want to interact with people on Facebook without directly logging in to Facebook" then I think you're somewhat on a fool's errand. If you want to avoid Facebook, avoid Facebook.
posted by brainmouse at 2:35 PM on August 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

There is - the web interface to FB Messenger, which at least lets you DM with people on FB without logging into the main site.
posted by COD at 2:55 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you have an Android phone, Disa is a third-party messaging app that can be used to communicate via Facebook Messenger. There is also Messenger Lite, which is an official Facebook app but has much less crap in it by comparison with the standard Messenger. You'll probably have to sideload it because it's only officially available in developing countries, where less powerful phones and lower mobile bandwidth is the norm.
posted by kindall at 3:27 PM on August 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: "But if your goal is "I want to interact with people on Facebook without directly logging in to Facebook""
yeah, i didn't explain that well...
- i need the internet for certain stuff, such as people i know in real daily life messaging me - internet penetration in rural uk is whatsapp, facebook, snapchat; even email is rare. I don't want to stop that, but i don't want to go to facebook, check my messages, then waste an hour on the site. I want to not blindly drift with the flow, giving them my time. My main worry is the 'information filter' or 'bubble'. My inspiration is this man:
But i haven't started reading blogs despite agreeing with what he says:( I want to hear multiple independent voices, not just 'curated feed' from giants.

I broke my linux partition so i'm on windows laptop; want to buy a linux or replicant smartphone but have a windows one

I want to not give money to ebay and amazon (hard in uk as no other safe online 2ndhand shopping)
posted by maiamaia at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2017

I know it's exactly what your trying to avoid, but I do a lot secondhand buying and selling on local Facebook groups. If you're looking for things, you have to be patient. And it's luck whether there's a good active selling group in your area.

But yeah, I know, Facebook....
posted by Helga-woo at 4:39 PM on August 28, 2017

Facebook messenger is a separate phone application so there's a reasonable chance it'll work without the Facebook application. You'll still be able to read and send messages to people but you won't be able to browse their profiles from the app.
posted by noloveforned at 5:35 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Messenger works fine on your phone without the FB app.
posted by COD at 5:49 PM on August 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

you'd be hurting both the big guys and the little guys (and the little guys would feel it more
Yup. Big A and G and FB DGAF about you, but my fictional boutique terrarium store sure appreciates a few pennies a day to keep the doors open.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:50 PM on August 28, 2017

Facebook Messenger is a separate phone app you can use instead of going into Facebook to do messaging. Maybe try that?

If you own a Kindle, it's a little odd to be worried about supporting Amazon. After all, the Kindle is an Amazon product. I have an e-ink Nook from Barnes & Noble that I love, and thus I buy my e-books from Barnes & Noble. You don't need to use a Kindle.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:06 PM on August 28, 2017

Buy a kobo to replace the kindle. Or something else. Every other e reader works with non amazon stuff. I can even check out library e books on my kobo.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 6:21 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Linux smartphone: you're not alone in wanting that! Keep an eye on this project:

And can you find someone to help you reinstall your preferred flavour of Linux on your laptop? Or you may be able to do that yourself, with a good tutorial. Such as this one.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:32 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Often another plus of going Messenger only on a phone is greatly improved battery life.
posted by aerotive at 11:52 AM on August 29, 2017

Just FYI, Facebook Messenger Lite is now available in the Google Play Store in the US. So you won't need to sideload it to benefit from it.
posted by kindall at 9:27 PM on October 16, 2017

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