I’ve never had a Facebook account. I was thoroughly turned off FB by the “you gotta join us to see how cool we are” stance they had, and also how they tried to get people to use FB instead of simple e-mail to further accrete users to datamine. That Zuckerberg, as I recall, once claimed privacy was an outdated concept only confirmed the correctness of my decision to treat Facebook as a dangerous etiological agent.
However, other things didn’t seem quite so bad. There are a couple Journal accounts, though they see ever less use. I gave up on LiveJournal when Russia, where LJ is now based, passed a law against any speech they happen to dislike. Russia can go do something intimate with a chainsaw for that. A rusty one. Sideways. And twice on Sundays, aye. InsaneJournal seems not to do much but collect spam now, which is disappointing. I’d love to simply disallow cyrillic comments – which would only cut the problem in half rather than truly solve it.
There is also a Twitter account or two, but nowadays much of that is a reflected “simulcast” from the more free Gab.ai (which some try to demonize as when you have free speech, you will get some uncomfortable speech. Gab is not “anything goes” – but as long as it’s not truly illegal, you can say it. Illegal? Copyright infringement beyond Fair Use, incitement, threats, doxing). Gab can seem a bit wild or of lower content quality, but if it really bothers you, there are tools to suppress your viewing of some things. They’re still there, just not in your field of view if you so choose. Gab has no “promoted” entries, no advertising. It’s supported by “pro” accounts and user donations. With no advertisers, there are no monetary levers for bad actors to use in an attempt at Speech Control.
Recently Microsoft revealed itself as evil (yet again) with saying it would soon be engaging in Speech Control. They can also go do something intimate with a chainsaw for that. But I had been using Skype – and I think I had before Microsoft corrupted it. One user interface bug is that the Skype window (at least on Linux) has a huge minimum size which wastes precious screen real estate. On a dual-monitor desktop that is merely annoying. On a laptop it is unforgivable.
While Google hasn’t been as bad, the shenanagins with YouTube reveal that “Don’t Be Evil” died. Yes, it died years ago when they caved to the Chinese government, but now “It’s Happening Here.” is quite obvious. Thus a few changes.
The Android phone is still in use, but I’m using Signal (encrypted by default) for messaging as much as I can. I also have Signal (via the Chrome extension/app) running on the desktop. But I am not running Chrome. Instead, I am running Vivaldi which is made by the folks that made the old, good Opera before (I am guessing) the marketing department took it over and screwed it up. My default search engine is Duck Duck Go, which makes a big thing about NOT tracking users. Vivaldi lets you set any search engine for regular search, but a Private Window gets Duck Duck Go so it remains private. Vivaldi’s sync setup is also encrypted – and they warn there is NO recovery mechanism. Lose the key, you need a new key and start from scratch. They won’t hand off your data because they simply can’t. Good.
Also, while there is a Gmail account, there is also a Vivaldi.net account for email. Vivaldi is a very good browser. I find a couple things (which they’re working on!) lacking at present. They have no email client of their own (as a built-in or stand-alone) and there is not yet a mobile version. Unless something goes horribly wrong, which I doubt, I’ll be adopting both of those as soon as it becomes possible to do so.
Skype is still around – for now. But that screen-waster is now behind other windows. One of those windows is Discord, which serves about the same purpose, but is at least less evil – though their idea of ‘server’ is peculiar. And while Discord’s window has a minimum size, it’s much smaller and fits on my screen the way I want it to, not the way some pinhead in Redmond believes it should. Also, the folks making Discord seem to have a thing all too many lack or try to a hide: a sense of humor.