One Simple Thing: Switch to Firefox
October 15, 2022•641 words
The Internet is an incredible invention, likely to go down as one of the most consequential technologies in human history, right up there with agriculture, government, electricity, and industrial processes. For a large chunk of humanity, the web is already an integral part of our everyday lives. We pay our bills, chat with friends, apply for jobs, or even make a living from this incredible technology.
But the Internet would not be nearly as useful without another invention: web browsers.
Web browsers and their underlying technologies provided a generalization platform on which to build all the amazing web applications we rely on today. They're incredibly complex pieces of software that can still display websites that were coded back before the turn of the century. It takes giant teams of programmers to maintain existing code and add new features as the web continues to evolve.
Most of us don't really think about our web browser. We use whatever default comes with our operating system, both on mobile or desktop devices. And since Android (the most prolific consumer-facing operating system in the world) provides Google Chrome by default, it's no surprise that Chrome has held the majority of market share for almost a decade.
But there is another browser out there. One that's not controlled by one of the biggest companies on the Internet that's obsessed with vacuuming up every little interaction you have with your device.
Birthed from the ashes of the Netscape Navigator project, Firefox has been a major player in the web browser space for two decades! While the project has had its ups and downs, it's an incredibly capable web browser with some really great features.
Some of my favorite include:
Picture-in-picture mode for videos so you can easily watch videos while using another application
Multi-account containers, which are useful for separating work and personal sites, isolating cookies, or logging onto multiple accounts on the same website
Account sync that carries my preferences to any device I use
Privacy by default with excellent tracker blocking protections enabled by default
Chrome definitely has some of these features, but Google does not care about your privacy, which is the major sticking point for me. I'm not going to turn this article into one about why you should care about data privacy (that will be its own post).
But you should care.
Google, Facebook, and any ad-based company are making billions of dollars off of observing your behavior so they can serve you hyper-specific advertisements. Most of us have been so worried about governments spying on us that we forgot private corporations can become just as invasive into our personal lives.
Google Chrome is one of those data-collecting tools. Google Chrome's default settings allow Google (and anyone else running a website) to track you as you browse because of its permissive cookie permissions. In addition, Google has no interest in providing good ad-blocking technology since they themselves rely so heavily on ads to stay alive.
And that's the big change that's happening soon which has encouraged me to write this post. Google Chrome is moving to Manifest v3, which is a new version of the technologies that allow extensions to be created for browsers. This new version removes key pieces that allow for ad-blockers to be effective, meaning you're going to start seeing a ton more ads when using Google Chrome, even if you are using a great ad-blocking extension like uBlock Origin.
So if you don't want to start seeing more ads or care about privacy in general, there's really just one option:
Join me and millions of other people. It's a fantastic browser, and by using it you'll help make the web a better place by showing Google they can't just take all of your personal data.
The One Thing: Switch to Firefox