On Quitting Google, WhatsApp, BuzzFeed, HuffPost

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I stopped using a couple of very popular services for a variety of reasons, mainly ethical ones, because I want to be in charge of my own digital life.

Quitting Google

I quit Google because the collection of data is getting too pervasive. I have no issues with publishing information about myself or storing sensitive data in the cloud, but I like to know what is stored and being able to delete it. And Google doesn’t let me know or delete it. So I don’t use Gmail or Google search anymore. Instead it’s FastMail and DuckDuckGo.

I never used Google+ in the first place.

Quitting WhatsApp

WhatsApp had too many security and privacy issues and also technical problems. At first I was unsure if I should really delete my account. Then being bought by Facebook didn’t make me feel better about the whole thing. So I deleted all my data and my account even though 38% of Germans have an account which is huge.

Quitting Huffington Post

I never used the Huffington Post and the likes in the first place. They just scrape content from the Internet and republish it as fast and as much as possible but under their own name. More content is better for getting lots of people via search engines or because of the greater exposure on social media. Also most of the articles they publish don’t add any value to the original article they are using as the source.

Quitting BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed and the likes are even worse. They use the same tactics like HuffPost but in a more deceiving way. All headlines are click-bait like [Famous person] got into trouble. You won’t believe what happened. Which means you have to click on the link because a) you are interested in the person but don’t know what happened and b) it sounds mysterious and pushes your buttons. Which means you are tricked into it.

Better headlines would be “[Famous person] got into trouble for unpaid parking tickets.” Then you are able to decide if it’s worth to spend your time reading the article.

I never used these sites which use these means of getting readers (or more appropriately eyeballs to display ads to).

The Takeaway

You can shape the world out there if you decide what kind of services you want to consume and pay for.

  • Don’t use services which employ business ethics which you don’t agree with.
  • Vote with your money. “If you don’t pay for the product you are the product.“
  • Don’t click on links if you don’t know what the linked article is all about.
  • Don’t click on links for headlines which end with a question mark. The question mark just means the author can freely speculate as much as he/she likes.

At least keep your private accounts on services which value your privacy. You can change jobs but not your life.

Update 2014-08-25

Facebook started fighting click-baiting today.

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