Take FAANG. Please. FAANG, the acronym and the buzzword, is made up of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Other than high profile leaders in their respective industries, what do they have in common?
Shake The FAANG
My contention is that life without FAANG is not a modern life. Some have tried and failed to extricate themselves from the technology giants. Kashmir Hill, for example:
Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple collectively make products that we love, products that we hate (but can’t stop using), and products that dictate how we communicate and how we are seen.
In Hill’s case, Microsoft took over the Netflix perch, but the same holds true. All the technology giants are different; different business models, different products, different approach to their customer base, but all five (or six) carry an outsized influence on billions of planet earth’s citizens.
Hill decided to cut the cord. Or, rather, cut the connection to the tech giants over a six week period. This was no mean feat, but it was fruitless and futile. The only way to go off the FAANG grid is to go off the grid.
It’s not just logging off of Facebook; it’s logging off the countless websites that use Facebook to log in. It’s not just using DuckDuckGo instead of Google search; it’s abandoning my email, switching browsers, giving up a smartphone, and living life without mapping apps. It’s not just refusing to buy toilet paper on Amazon.com; it’s being blocked from reading giant swaths of the internet that are hosted on Amazon servers, giving up websites and apps that I didn’t previously know were connected to the biggest internet giant of them all.
If you’re online then you’re being tracked by Google. If you use DuckDuckGo instead of Google and visit search results websites, Google tracks you via Google Analytics. See? “Off the grid” is a thing because going off the grid is about the only way to avoid being tracked by one or more of the tech giants.
If you didn’t use a Mac or iPad or iPhone to avoid Apple, then what device was used? A typical PC? A Samsung Galaxy-whatever? Think Microsoft Windows and Google’s Android.
I wanted to excise these companies from my life as completely as possible, including all the invisible ways in which I might interact with them or rely on them without realizing it.
Easier said than done. You can run, but you cannot hide. Unless you go off the grid entirely.
How so? Google tracks everyone online. Amazon tracks almost everyone online. Tracked data gets bought and sold and shared behind the scenes in more ways than you can imagine. Swapping out Netflix (I don’t use Netflix) for Microsoft only makes the FAANG or FAAMG worse. Microsoft tracks users, too, and far more than Netflix.
You have no idea how hard it is to find a phone that’s not touched by Apple or Google.
Hill decided to block Amazon first. You might think that not buying anything from Amazon for a month or two would be easy. Does Amazon track you outside of your searches on Amazon? Yes.
It Was Impossible.
It’s not just Amazon the online store. Amazon’s newly advertised AWS– Amazon Web Services— is used by a few million websites so the tracking continues even if you’re not shopping online. I look forward to reading Hill’s venture to rid her life of other FAANG or FAAMG entities, but the reality is simple.
If you’re online, you cannot escape FAANG (or, FAAMG).