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Moving away from Big Brother(s)

777 words (approximately 4 minutes reading)

Due to a recent event, people have been actively moving away from it to Telegram1 or Signal. This is just the first step of moving away from Big Brother’s surveillance.

My personal story

Though I have never used WhatsApp, I myself have been using Facebook for quite a long time (about 8 years or so) and so do people around me. It is worrying that Facebook (along with Zalo, a popular messaging service in Vietnam) has become a de facto main communication channel between schools and students/parents and among family members.

It is hard to switch 100% to another service: people are too familiar with it, and are already connected to their “friends”2. They are reluctant to switch to something new, which includes choosing an unknown service and probably a client, creating a new account3, and adding people there. And if no one is moving, you can’t really move either.

I haven’t used Facebook or Instagram for about two weeks, and I’m certainly happier - I don’t have to deal with the negativity from Facebook drama or typical Facebook user hostile behaviors (my fault for joining so many groups). I still have to use Messenger, though, since my friends refuse to use matrix. I will delete that soon enough, along with my Facebook account.

Things to do

Deleting Facebook account probably does not keep you entirely from Facebook’s greed, but it sure is a great first step: you thereby declare your privacy and that you do not allow them to collect your data.

Facebook can probably track you via other means, such as ads, or embedded comments on other websites. To avoid this, block trackers with some extension such as Ghostery or Privacy Badger. It also blocks tracking ads from Google.

I also recommend LibreJS, a browser extension by GNU that blocks nonfree JavaScript. These scripts can unknowingly send data to the server as well. However, since not everyone is aware of GNU’s guidelines for licensing JavaScript, it may blocks some free JavaScript as well (example being that of Element and Hydrogen being blocked).

Facebook is not the only Big Brother that keeps surveilling you: on top of my head, there are Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Unfortunately, they stand behind ones of the most popular operating systems for a lot of devices, namely Windows, MacOS, Android4, and iOS. This gives them a lot of power over a majority of users - they can easily listen to every process you run, every file you download or upload. Computer users should switch to a GNU/Linux distros of their choice for their own good. For mobile phone, you can try installing Replicant (Android replacement) or buy a GNU/Linux mobile phone (e.g. PinePhone or Librem), though I cannot confirm their ease of use, for I haven’t tried.

It doesn’t stop there: they also own many services that may pose privacy concerns or censorship whose replacements can be found below:


  1. Telegram’s client is open source; its server and protocol are probably not. ↩︎

  2. For many people, this is acquaintance plus or minus family. ↩︎

  3. Creating a new account should be a simple process, but for many people, especially the elderly, find this troublesome and have to rely on their children for it. ↩︎

  4. Even though Android itself is free, it contains many nonfree parts, and mobile phones running on Android are often shipped with Google Play Service (and/or sometimes the surveillance system of the manufacturer) ↩︎


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