Ads, advertisement, bubbles, and add-free youtube

I stopped trusting Google Search when I discovered it was tailoring its results to what it (thought it) knew about me. I hated that. Also, Google following me around disturbs me as well. So I switched to search engines that try to respect my privacy and try not to put me in a filter bubble of personalized search results. Currently I mostly use Duckduckgo, but also others, like Gibiru, Swisscows, Search encrypt, Metager and Searx.

I haven’t found a suitable alternative for Youtube yet. I use Youtube for podcasts, lectures and lots of music discovery and listening. My main problem with Youtube is not so much its search algorithm (it does pose the same risk of putting you in a bubble, but at least for music that’s not that harmful) but the revenue model: adds before, after and inside videos,¹ and suppressing videos that are controversial (and therefore bad for advertising). And I really hate adds. I think adds are toxic for your thinking, feeling, everything. Yes, I really really hate adds. Can’t Youtube be add-free? Just ask a small fee. When enough people pay a fee, can’t Youtube be made add-free? No, not as long as people want everything to be free on the internet, and rather sell their soul than pay even little.

Well, I doubt Youtube would abandon adds entirely, even if enough people payed a fee. That’s capitalism: companies always want to make more money. They don’t care about your health. So, I’m still waiting for that Youtube alternative. Just as I’m waiting for a Twitter alternative. How hard can it be, properly decentralized? Like bittorent?

Not expecting that Youtube alternative anytime soon, I decided to go Premium: add-free, background play (and some other stuff, don’t know what exactly). Currently 12 bucks a month, which is not a little (compares to a Netflix subscription, or a phone subscription), but neither is it unaffordable, at least for people in prosperous countries. I economize by not having a phone subscription (call me on Telegram!).

Here’s the crucial difference: by paying a subscription for Youtube, you change from being the product (Google sells your eyes and ears to companies that want to pollute your brain) to being a customer.

So, as long as we’re unable to kickstart a viable decentralized alternative or some billionaire goes charity and creates a democratized non-commercial Youtube alternative, I pay up. As long as I can afford it.

  1. Yes, I know about adblockers and alternative apps for the phone. I usually listen on my phone and I’m not happy with the currently existing work arounds/hacks/alternatives for the phone (and even on the PC blocking doesn’t always work).