Alternatives to Invasive Websites

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JavaScript and its consequences has been a disaster for the internet.

Is something someone probably maybe said. Since most people reading this blog probably know that JavaScript is the most evil thing in existence (hyperbolically speaking - it has its uses of course) I won’t go into detail here why - same with why you should use alternative websites.
I will list here some alternatives and alternative frontends to websites which minimize the amount of JavaScript loaded and executed in your browser. Alternative front-ends are also often less distracting, and you might waste less time on those websites.
I will also give some more alternatives which don’t necessarily use less JS, but at least are less invasive than the mainstream options. This list might expand over time, its not complete since it will only cover things I have personally used, or used at least more than once.

Youtube

Youtube is one of the biggest and most visited websites on the web. Its also a privacy nightmare. Don’t visit youtube.com.
Instead use:

Alternative front ends

  1. An Invidious instances: Invidious tends to break a bit sometimes, might need some configuration to run smoothly but the websites load much faster than Youtube’s and are much less smaller. (just look at the network tab…).
  2. A Piped instance: Especially piped.video. Works much better than invidious in my experience however it might rarely struggle with availability. Playlists are sometimes broken though.
  3. Youtube local: I run it locally on my machine (though ideally I’d be running it on a VPS). The sites load blazingly fast and videos buffer quickly.
    Somtimes you might get an error message instead of comments but reloading usually resolves this (then again, why would you be reading comments in the first place?). It used RSS for subscriptions so if you already use RSS for that you can simply import your list. You can subscribe via the interface, make playlists, etc.
  4. FreeTube: A desktop app. manages subscriptions (using RSS of course) and local playlists. Based on electron though, and electron is bad though.
  5. Only RSS: the simplest method if you know what your’re doing. I use newsboat, then pipe video links from newsboat into MPV. It just loads the RSS feeds and you stream the video from MPV - never download anything that isn’t needed to watch youtube videos.

If you don’t want to use an alternative front-end, you could uBlock for blocking elements on the Youtube website, like the recommended tab, or the comments. For help on this go look here.

Alternative video platforms

  1. Rumble: Sites load fast, the interface is clean. Pretty nice, though I don’t like that I get recommended so much about american politics and rage-bait.
  2. Odysee: Slower than rumble but has more content, and a better recommendation system.

For smartphones

  1. NewPipe: Also uses RSS feeds, you can listen to something while switching apps or turning your screen off, minimize the image and keep watching when switching tasks, etc… Download it via F-Droid, make sure to add the NewPipe repo to get the latest updates and you’re set
  2. Youtube Vanced: I haven’t used it but is basically Youtube minus the Ads and some trackers removed. It’s also not open-source!

Searching

DON’T USE GOOGLE! 1 Searching is something you will use a lot in your life, and something that could potentionally know a lot about you…

  1. Searx: Its a Meta-Search engine, i.e. it takes your query and asks multiple search engines for results. These engines don’t know who you are. Pick a searx instance, configure whichever engines you want to use and done. May break, public instances can always disappear.
  2. Brave: As far as I know it has proven to be quite privacy respecting, and delivers good search results.
  3. Startpage: Alternative front-end to Google - more private but you’re still using and supporting Google.
  4. DuckDuckGo: Yes, cuckcuckgo. Results are usually good, but can underdeliver especially when searching programming related questions.
  5. Swisscows: Privacy respecting but uses bing results.
  6. Wiby: I love this website. Its only for finding minimalistic websites and not something you’d use on a daily basis.

Twitter

In the case you actually, voluntarily wanted to use Twitter (🤮) at least use an alternative front end!

  1. Nitter: Just pick an instances and use it. (Update: As of 28.02.2024 most of not all Nitter instances won’t work)

Reddit

Same with twitter: at least be safe when going there.

  1. Libreddit: I don’t know why they use HLS but just enable it in the config and you’re done.

Discord

… I hate this app so much 2 3 4 and I hate that I have to use it for some things…

Using Discord

  1. Webcord: The last non-official client that could get you banned. Its much better than using Discord in a browser, just read the docs. Based on electron but still, much better than using a browser with Discord.
  2. In a browser: Trafotin has a good video on this. Follow this. Remember /science is evil.

Alternative

  1. Matrix: A protocol which also allows E2EE. There is a lot of metadata attached to every message and people have been killed because of metadata but its still much better than Discord. Too bad most clients are not good though…
  2. Mumble: For VoIP, it is technically not an alternative to Discord/
  3. Jitsi: Either use https://meet.jit.si/ or install Jitsi on your own server. Also only for voice chatting but still, much better than Discord for that.

Ad-Blocking

Get U-Block origin and use it in advanced user mode. Everyone should do this, its not optional. Nonetheless, you’d have to do this for every browser (though you can export and import settings) and U-Block origin works differently for Firefox and Chromium based browser. Use also, in conjunctions with an adblocker, hblock or a Pi-Hole. I might write something about how to use hblock since its not that well known. Look at this repo for source files, or search for whatever tracker lists for a Pi-Hole and use those. You can manually add some domains.

Others

Have a look at https://github.com/mendel5/alternative-front-ends, its much better organized than this blog entry…

Redirecting

Use LibRedirect for redirecting automatically to any alternative front ends of your choice. Its that simeple!


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Technology · Privacy