If it is free it is because you are the product.
This is something to keep in mind, we often think of the internet as free. There are real costs associated with it, from fiber optics, data centers, engineering, and operational costs. However, we've become accustomed to thinking of the internet as "free". Companies may allow you to access their tools for free but this is because they are harvesting and using your data to sell to advertisers. I spent much of my career in advertising technology trafficking and targeted advertising campaigns for ideal clients. Many do not realize the power our behavioral data has on these apps and online.
The truth is you don't NEED a lot of what is targeted to you, we are a society obsessed with consumerism and BUY BUY BUY things we don't need and out money goes to corporations and people who don't care about us. As someone who advocates for conscious consumerism and spent 7+ years in advertising tech - I feel it's my responsibility to teach you the hacks to avoid being targetted and coerced into buying things that do not add value to your life.
All technology is a tool, in our current climate policy, are being called to be held accountable yet internet companies have not. The software and tools we use every day hold so much information about us. Allowing advertisers to target very precisely based on our interests. Yet there is not much legislation on privacy, with the current administration threatening our rights - when would it be acceptable to access users' data?
Often we don't even need police interference to find out about folks we just go to find many people's information all over their social media feeds. We need to be more mindful about what is being shared on platforms what information people we don't know have access too.
Until we get policy that protect user privacy and data online below are some of my favorite tools to use to ensure that my data is private.
1. Signal App alternative to Whatsapp.
This is a messaging app similar to WhatsApp, letting you add your friends but it is double-ended encrypted. Meaning the company does not have access to your messages, only you and whomever you send the message to. It also allows you to send disappearing messages. It is a registered non-profit and 100% free.
2. Duck Duck Go alternative to Google.com
Let's be real we google everything, however, we probably don't realize that Google is an advertising company first. Your search history allows them to sell to advertisers and show you advertising by dropping trackers on your browser. Duck Duck Go never stores your information allowing you to search with ease.
3. Proton Mail alternative to Gmail.
Google also has your email, letting them understand what you like, and target you with advertising. You can sign up for an alternative free encrypted email account on Proton Mail which allows you. However, it does not have the full suite of products.
4. Jitsi powered by 8x8 alternative to Zoom.
Zoom has come under scrutiny for its security features. Only the paid version has security and encryption enabled and faced scrutiny over zoombombings. however, if you want to secure fully encrypted calls you can use jitsi which has similar capabilities. This is an open-source project meaning you can access the code and build even cooler things with it.
5. Brave Browser alternative to Chrome.
This is an alternative if you want to get rid of chrome all together. Websites still require money to continue to survive and bring you the content you enjoy. Outside of memberships and products that sites may sell, like our monthly membership or consulting on Buildwithjoy.co, they rely on advertising revenue. Using Brave you actually get paid in cryptocurrency and can decide to opt into ethical advertising to publishers (websites) you want to support without compromising your privacy.
The truth is some of these products do allow for easier use ie: google suite what we do need long term is a privacy protection and not allowing mega-corporations and tech monopolies to set the rules. To ensure this make sure you vote in your local and primary elections for candidates that are pushing for reform online as well. Check how here.