Geek as a platform

Trying to minimize tracking in mobile platforms

Random thoughts about how to reduce your "big data footprint"

1) Social networks

I have managed to reduce my "wasted" time in social networks to the bare minimum...

  • Earlier this year I "quit" G+ (it's a pitty, it had a lot of potential, but it ended up badly)
  • I uninstalled FB app from my smartphone months ago, so I use the browser to log in FB (I keep Twitter app installed though)
  • I spend just a few minutes in FB/Twitter every day. Pretty low profile for today's standards, I guess.

But the tracking ads in FB are driving me crazy.

Quick examples:

a) I was having a discussion with some friends about portable espresso machines (yes, they do exist), so I googled it and went on with my life. Next time I logged in FB, there it was... Portable espresso machine:

'ads'

b) Another discussion about smart trackers, another search and 15 minutes later I am seeing promoted posts in Facebook.

Probably I was using Chrome Browser and Google Search for this, so not only FB is to blame... And don't get me wrong, I don't mind Mark making loads of money sharing (should I say "selling"?) people's info (life?), but just not mine...

As I said, I already removed Facebook Android application from my phone (and you should probably do the same) and I was using my main browser (Chrome) to log in, but third-party cookies are not helping here... I have decided to use Firefox browser mainly for Facebook. It was already installed in my smartphone, so I simply created a shortcut to the FB url in the "desktop"

If you are not a heavy FB user, this will do the job... It is better than the FB lite application, and you will be able to isolate your browsing history from your FB session (I'm sorry Mark)

2) Google ads + location

It's not easy to stay away from Google when you are using Android devices... I am a happy CyanogenMod user (both in my OnePlus One and my old Samsung S3) but Google services are the core of the OS, and, truth being told, they tend to make your life easier. It comes with a price, of course: "If You're Not Paying for It, You're the Product"

There are a lot of information in the Internet about Google services alternatives such as leavegooglebehind.com but it is not an easy task (see Bryan's post series in Networkworld). I haven't gone that far yet but there are some easy alternatives to Google apps that do the job for me:

  • Using different internet browsers such as Firefox (not "instead of" but together with Chrome)
  • Duckduckgo as primary search engine (instead of Google Search)
  • Telegram as IM client (instead of Hangouts/Allo)
  • Piktures as gallery app (instead of Photos)
  • Dropbox as shared storage (instead of Drive)

Some other applications such as GMail, GMaps, Youtube, GDocs, etc are not so easy to replace, and I wouldn't look for an alternative unless you are really decided to live out of Google's kingdom.

And one step further: disable GPS, disable WLAN when not connected, remove old SSIDs from your WLAN, disable Google history, and location services... There are many things to do if you are concerned about your privacy. However, being connected 24/7 means there will be a track of your activities/locations somewhere, like it or not.

Trying to keep the same level of privacy as in 1990's, when people were unable to reach you if you weren't at home, is kind of impossible nowadays. Embrace it or go find a nice cave because you are going to have a hard time in the next 5-10 years.

Let's be careful out there

//psgonza

PS: And rest assured that not only companies like Google, FB, Apple, Amazon, etc are willing to track you... Bad guys and goverments have a lot of interest in your digital life as well...

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