Quack because it’s good for you

Do you find this statement by former Google boss Eric Schmidt alarming: “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

I do, because the company which once had listed in its Code of Conduct the phrase ‘Do no evil’ appears to have slithered towards a darker purpose. The original axiom was later removed and replaced by ‘Do the Right Thing’: equally vapid, veiled with menace, and impossible to achieve. Right for whom, is the obvious and initial question to ask. The answer is apparently Google, its owners and shareholders.

This should scare sentient adults with the ability to think for themselves and process information without emotion.

From Tim Berners Lee and others, the warnings to remain vigilant are consistent: tech platforms, they suggest, have taken over government of communication and perception of the world as we know it. Boris, Donald, Xi Jinping, Vladimir & Co who believe themselves to be in charge are, more realistically, in hopeless thrall to Google and Facebook, with Twitter, Uber, and Airbnb among others providing the bread and circuses to divert the people (that’s thee and me).

Berners-Lee, wrote in an open letter to mark the 29th anniversary of the world wide web: “In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data. These problems have proliferated because of the concentration of power in the hands of a few platforms – including Facebook, Google, and Twitter – which control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared.”

Increasingly, and if you are getting the heebie-jeebies about the lack of accountability of the tech giants, this won’t help. It really is starting to look as though The Matrix was less fiction and more documentary.

One way to divert the baleful gaze of the technocrats from your underwear drawer and wallet is to stop using Google and use https://duckduckgo.com instead.

It is not as slick, and its results may not be as comprehensive but, let’s face it, it takes some tenacity to go beyond the first page of any search you conduct online.

And to convert to the quack side is not difficult. Apple and Google both list DuckDuckGo as a search default option on their Safari and Chrome browsers.