How you can cut Google out of your life

By Rob Pegoraro

The European Commission leveled a shocking $2.7 billion fine against (GOOG, GOOGL) in the body’s antitrust case against the search giant. Almost as surprising as that princely sum, though, is Google’s more than 90% market share of the search industry in the European Union.

We in the United States may pride ourselves on our rugged independence, but we are right behind Europeans in our Google habits. StatCounter’s
numbers show we’ve given Google 87.7% of the total search market and 96.3% of the mobile-search market.

How to give Google a rest

But just because Google dominates the industry, it doesn’t mean you have to turn to it every time curiosity strikes. Not when Google’s influence and reach keep increasing, the odds of meaningful privacy rules in the U.S. keep dwindling and when you can save time and effort by going elsewhere in certain scenarios.

For basic lookups: Wikipedia. Admit it, half the time a Google query sends you to a Wikipedia entry anyway. If you’re looking for general info about a subject, why not cut out the middleman and go directly to this user-generated encyclopedia?

For any moderately embarrassing query: DuckDuckGo or StartPage. If you’ve got a query that you don’t want in your Google search history, turning to this privacy-optimized site will do that and give you practice in using a non-Google search.   

(How to) Sabotage Google (for Dummies)

By Christopher R Rice

96 percent of Google’s revenue is advertising. In 2016, ad revenues rose 17 percent, to $19.1 billion. There's only two ways I have found to sabotage their profits.

1.) Click Google ads on your favorite sites and do not buy anything. So how can you tell Google ads from other ads? It's simple, all Google ads have a sideways triangle in the top right corner of all their ads. How does this sabotage Google? Google is paid from advertisers when people buy something, so Google is on a commission basis but they pay webmaster per click. Google like any corrupt no talent manager keeps the bulk of the profits for themselves and only pays webmasters a few cents per click which may only amount to a paper cut for a giant like Google but a thousand paper cuts a day will make anyone bleed, no matter how big they are.

2.) Skip ads on YouTube

YouTube's TrueView ads can cost advertisers less per actual view because they pay only when the ads aren't skipped. 

The Google backlash is growing

By REUTERS/Stephen Lam

In the wake of the leaked FTC report indicating that Google threatened web sites with removal from its search engine if they didn't let Google use their content, the backlash against Google is rising again.

A few years ago, Google faced a lot of criticism, for everything from letting some of its Street View cars collect people's Wi-Fi
data, to showing ads from Canadian pharmacies who violated US laws.

And, “The conduct under investigation includes alleged preferential placement of Google vertical search services, demotion of rivals in Google’s search results rankings, and the unauthorized use of user reviews, star ratings, and other content that Google scrapes from competing vertical search sites,” Abbott said in court documents in June 2012, when he filed allegations that Google refused to turn over materials related to the probe. “If Google is maintaining its monopoly in horizontal search through exclusionary conduct directed at vertical competitors, or monopolizing the search advertising market through exclusive contracts, the Attorney General’s Office may bring an enforcement action against Google for monopolization.” Ted Cruz

But the criticism seemed to have died down in the year or so.

Now, a consumer advocacy group in the US in calling on the Federal Trade Comission (FTC) to reopen its investigation into Google, while at least one lawmaker in Europe is calling for a crackdown on its practices.  

At the heart of the matter is the internal FTC report's finding that Google was effectively blackmailing competing sites like Yelp and Amazon into using their data in its own search result. If they didn't agree, they would get blacklisted from search results entirely. 

The report recommended that the FTC file charges, but instead Google underwent some voluntary changes and the investigation was closed.

In the European Union, however, investigations into Google's allegedly anticompetitive practices are still going on. Outtspoken Google critic and European Parliament member Ramon Tremosa Balcells has used the report as ammunition in his fight for the European Union to take a strong stand against the search giant.

Some have criticized the EU's scrutiny of Google as kneejerk reactionism against a successful American company invading European territory. The fact that the FTC could have, but didn't, file charges, show that the issues are serious and that it's not a “protectionist E.U. war against a U.S. company,” said Tremosa, according to a New York Times

Consumer Watchdog, a California-based advocacy group, says that the report's findings indicate that it's time for the US Senate Antitrust Committee to reopen an investigation and figure out exactly how Google escaped prosecution.

"It is unfathomable that the FTC declined to sue the Internet giant, in the face of pervasive and persuasive evidence from its expert staff. The only way the FTC can redeem itself and regain public trust is to re-open the case. Indeed, Google's anticompetitive and abusive practices of favoring its own services in search results continue," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, in a press release. 

Google continues to insist on its innocence, while the FTC stands by its decision not to press charges.  

(For truly cringe-inducing searches, you should continue to borrow a co-worker’s computer when they’re not looking.)

For copying site addresses to share: Bing. If you only need to get a site’s address to paste into an email or a social-media post, the Microsoft (MSFT) search engine lets you right-click on results to copy that string of characters, while a right-click at Google yields a much longer Google URL that will redirect to the real thing.

For some transit searches: Bing Maps. Google Maps is generally fantastic, but it leaves out some transit services. Why? Google normally requires them to sign an indemnification clause holding it harmless for navigation errors before it will index their route data. Bing doesn’t, which can result in transit options like the local bus service in Fairfax County, Virginia — Washington’s most populous suburb — showing up on its maps but not Google’s.

Change your default search in one browser

If you appreciate feeling a little less
dependent on one giant tech firm, you can go a step further by changing the default search in one browser that you use regularly.

If you appreciate Google’s features but want to move some of your searches out of its gaze, Bing is your best bet. For example, it’s the one major Google alternative that lets you constrain a query to a particular date range, not just the last week or month, or run a “
reverse image search” to locate pictures that look like one you upload.

If you value privacy above all, DuckDuckGo might be your best alternative, as it doesn’t track your search history at all. Changing the default in one browser will offer a routine reminder that search doesn’t stop with Google.

To do that in Google’s Chrome browser from your computer, open the program’s settings page, scroll down to “Search engine” and choose an
alternative. DuckDuckGo doesn’t appear in that list, but adding its free Chrome extension will fix that.

In Chrome for Android, tap the menu button, choose “Settings” and then “
Search Engine.” DuckDuckGo isn’t there by default but should show up in that list if you’ve visited it lately.

In Apple’s (AAPL) Safari for MacOS, click in the address bar, clear the text in it, and click the magnifying-glass icon to change the default. In iOS, open the Settings app, scroll down its left-hand column and choose Safari, then tap “Search Engine” in the right-hand column.

In Microsoft’s Edge, go to the search site you want, open the settings menu, select “View Advanced Settings…” and then choose “Change search engine.”