Ditching Chrome

Facebook is currently in deletion process. In 14 days, unless I have a moment of weakness, my account will be irrecoverably removed1. While this will be painful, it is for the better.

However, there is one more goliath that I need to wean myself from. One that is infinitely more entrenched, and intertwined in my online life. One that will probably be impossible to completely cut out.

I speak of Google. While Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated that they aren’t worthy of the stewardship of my personal information, Google hasn’t broken that trust. At least as far as we know. But, the amount of information they gather on you is truly astounding. Every where you go, every link you click, Google is watching you.

But, no, I am not going to delete my gmail account, or go back to hosting my own email (I am so done with that). But, I will take a pretty big step.

I’m talking about moving away from the ubiquity of the Chrome browser, and to Firefox. I will admit that I have been pretty much 100% on Chrome for a number of years – my “go to” platform, and it has been a solid performer. But, in the back of my mind, I was constantly weighing the tradeoffs, what Google gets out of it. Sure, with plugins like Ghostery, and Adblock Plus, it is a reasonable trade off.

Yet, lately, as I listen to the cooling fans spin up on my personal laptop, and my work laptop, checking the offending culprits, it is almost always Chrome, or one of the Chrome helpers.

Firefox has staked a claim of transparency, and less telemetry and tracking. Finally, I am making a concerted effort to make the shift. But, it is not simple or easy.

Sure, moving the bookmarks is trivial. And I will need to log in everywhere, getting my cookies and like settled up. Yet, there are differences, things that were friction free on Chrome, that are small, but growing annoyances. I really liked the not playing audio or video by default in later builds of Chrome.

And Chrome’s incognito mode is better, not that the Firefox version is bad, it just is, uh different, and takes getting used to.

I do hate the default practice of wanting to remember names and logins to autofill (I use 1Password for a reason). Having to disable it is a speedbump, but not a huge deal.

Summary

Closing my Facebook account was a good start. Switching away from Google’s Chrome is a second step. A dream of privacy and being free from trackers is probably unattainable (if you want to experience this, get one of the plugins that blocks all javascript, turn off cookies altogether, and use Ghostery/Adblock set on the most aggressive settings, and see what the web is like without all the frippery we have come to expect)

This isn’t a single event, it will be a journey. And I am unlikely to be able to delete Chrome from my laptop, as there are some sites that just work better with it. However, it will be the browser I fire up only when needed.

I doubt that I will ever achieve complete control over my personal information, but I will get a lot better than the recent past.


1– I am not naive enough to truly believe that Facebook will delete my data.

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