A few questions


Fairly new here, I’ve been wanting to improve on my privacy for quite some time now & I finally got started a few days ago. This site/forum has been a great help and I I’m definetly on the right path but I obviously have a few questions and hopefully you’ll be able to help me.

First things first, here’s what I’ve done so far :

  • Switched from Opera, to Vivaldi & finally Firefox with setup from Sun Knudsen, created containers for FB & Google while I begin my exit (that may takes months…),
  • Created secured emails and began switching accounts from gmail,
  • I’ve been a Dashlane premium user for a few years now but I installed KeePassXC and started to make the switch,
  • Currently trying crypt.ee which may end up replacing Notion & Google Drive. I might as well go all in on Obsidian with an encrypted folder hosted on Nextcloud or something,
  • Currently creating my Nextcloud server that’ll be hosted on a Raspberry Pi, I wanted to do that for quite some time, mainly to replace Google Photos & Drive, we’ll see how it goes,
  • Deleted / deactivated Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp… from my Android phone
  • Installed Telegram, Session (that I prefer but I’m the only one of my friends I guess)

I have yet to :

  • Clean my phone, leave Facebook, export & delete everything from Google Photos, disable Telemetry on Windows & MS cloud services, setup Pihole & install a google Free os on my phone.

As for my devices, I have a Windows 10 “gaming” computer that I use at home, a Macbook pro that I use for work & on the go and my phone is a S8.

And for the questions…

  • 1) can I setup Pi-hole with Nextcloud on the same Raspbeery Pi ? It’s a 3, I may grab the 4 if that would help runs the setup smoothly. Is it worth installing it if you have the good browser extensions ?

  • 2) I’ve read everything and its contrary about every browser, nevertheless Firefox seems to be the best option ? can Tor be used as an everyday browser ? Is it worth using it if we log in social networks & stuff ?

  • 3) what’s the point of ditching WA for like Telegram / Signal / Session / Olvid if you use it on a non-private phone (non secure Android or any iphone i guess) ?

  • 4/ what can I say to my friends that are aware of privacy issues but choose not to do anything because ‘u either go all in or it’s useless’ / ‘why bother when you still have an Android/Apple phone that spies on you’ etc…

Well, that’ll be a good start haha, thanks for reading & have a nice day =)

Hi, and welcome to the forums!

Clearly you are on the right track and taking a lot of big steps already, great job!

Regarding question 2, I would say using Firefox as your daily driver is the best choice. It provides more customization options than the alternatives to enhance your privacy, for which there are plenty of guides including in this site. However some people might feel uncomfortable messing with this type of stuff.

Another great tip is to use multiple profiles with different configurations and add-ons that you use for different purposes i.e., social media, gaming, Google accounts, etc. This will generate different browser fingerprints which will make it harder to correlate them into one identity. Of course if you do this you should watch out for other vectors like signing up with the same email address everywhere. You can also use different browsers as well, such as Ungoogled Chromium, Brave or Vivaldi. Note that even if one is not the most privacy friendly, it really doesn’t matter than much if you’re going to use it for Google stuff for example, right? It all really depends on your particular use case and threat model.

Using Tor to log in to social media accounts completely defeats the purpose of using it in the first place, which is to deanonymize you. You don’t want to do that and it would be better if you never logged in anywhere, and use it to browse sites that don’t require any information about you in order to display content.

Question number 3 is like asking “why should I start doing exercise if I’m still eating doughnuts?” And my answer to that is: take it easy. Of course you could just drop everything at once but that’s not realistic. Small things matter because they add up. If you buy a new phone but continue to use Whatsapp, you are still making progress because you can eventually change to Signal. Is not perfect but quite honestly you’ll hardly ever get that 100% privacy experience, and you’ve got to start somewhere either way.

Number 4: As I mentioned privacy is not a “go big or go home” scenario. If you think about it, the reverse process to include all these services that are privacy-invasive also didn’t happen overnight. Facebook, Google, Amazon… all these companies introduced new features increasingly to build their walled gardens and expand their user base and profit from it. It would be great to not have to worry about any of this but you also don’t have to make massive changes to your lifestyle, either. If you friends change to Signal that’s already a massive improvement, one app.

Even if you go full paranoid mode your friends and relatives are going to “slow you down” (probably not the best choice of words) because they’ll still tag you onto Facebook pictures or use a Gmail account to send you stuff, or WhatsApp to… you get the idea. Rather than making a massive change yourself, try to gradually make smaller changes that your friends can also make with you. Smaller, collective steps have a greater impact than greater, individual ones.

2) - Sure you can run Tor as an everyday browser :slight_smile: i personally use mozilla-based browsers rather than Firefox itself. For Windows & Mac,… um ya Tor Browser is a better option than Firefox. There is also UNGoogled Chromium (if u get it make sure u download it from the correct/original website). Also there is a mozilla based browser called “palemoon” webbrowser for Windows & Linux

  • People might not know this, but Facebook has an onion version of their social network … you could sign up to it with a throw away email :slight_smile: I don’t use social networks tho, but IF I did - I look at Plemora curiously… also LinkedIn works via Tor the last time I checked.

  • Also if you play games and just wanna chat with gamer friends Mumble is ok instead of Discord.

3) Limits the spying

4) idk hehe if your social life is strained because it is common to like carry smartphones and such…some ppl need security more than others but i always just let ppl decide for themselves. BUT if anyone wants to chat with me online…they will need to use Tox or XMPP+OMEMO or Mumble or whatever else… I DO feel its def worth it to secure your laptops and desktops… the phone - depends on the user i guess :\

unrelated to your questions…windows…Simplewall (Henry++) Firewall will show you EVERY TIME your OS tries connecting to MS and allows you to permanently block it :slight_smile: It’s a GUI based Firewall for Windows that uses less than 5MB of RAM - it is efficient and shouldnt affect gaming performance noticably :smiley:

Thanks a lot for your answers!

I’ll keep Firefox as my go-to browser and Tor for the occasionnal usage.

Question number 3 is like asking “why should I start doing exercise if I’m still eating doughnuts? my answer to that is: take it easy… you’ll hardly ever get that 100% privacy experience”

I don’t know man, if the purpose of our actions is to keep them out of our stuff but whatever we do on mobile they still have access to because they handle the product/os that kind of defeat the point. It’s like putting on transparent curtains on our windows. I don’t know how bad the “mobile espionnage” is though, and maybe I’m a little too paranoïd on this one.

I get the “small collective steps are better than big steps taken alone” mindset but that’s soo hard to pull off. Hopefully, having my own cloud & knowing the first steps to take towards a privacy-friendly way of life will help convince my core friends/family members.

Do you guys have any experience with Nextcloud ? If no, how do you handle your notes & stuff ?

Also if you play games and just wanna chat with gamer friends Mumble is ok instead of Discord.

How bad is Discord in term of privacy ? I stumbled recenlty on Element which seems like a good alternative, ever heard of it ?

And thanks for simplewall, looks like an amazing little product that I’ll definitely check out.

Have a nice day!

Facebook also wants a real phone number for verification (you can’t use virtual or shared phone numbers you can find online). That defeats the entire purpose of using Tor and throwaway mails.

Anyway… is there even a point in using Facebook?

Imagine that you are asked to allocate funds to improve your city’s waste management system. One area that you notice hasn’t received any funding in a long time is the recycling process. That would be a good thing to do but you realize the citizens of your city don’t separate their trash, which makes the process harder and prohibitively expensive so there’s no point in doing anything about it.

The citizens get asked why won’t they separate their trash, a simple and low effort gesture that could have potential benefits to the city. They reply that the waste collection system won’t recycle it either way, so there’s no point in doing anything about it.

Do you see where I’m going with this? If you don’t change anything then nothing changes and there’s even less reason to change anything in the first place.

Of course you are not going to revert an entire system designed to keep you engaged by some of the most qualified people on the planet by flipping a switch. But the thing is, since your privacy is already compromised, you have nothing to lose by taking these small steps like switching to Signal (for example). Work it out over time and you’ll eventually get there, without having to drop everything at once and losing contact entirely with your friends, family, etc.

It would be great to stop using privacy-invasive operating systems, and apps, and hardware, and many other things. But is unrealistic to ask anyone to do all of that at once. It’s just not gonna happen. Forget about it. You want change people’s habits? You are stuck on the slow lane, and that is not necessarily a bad thing either, just a fact.

ew i didn’t know facebook requires a phone number now even on their onion version

i didn’t really know that cuz i dont really use it xD