Aug. 2, 2021

Each Episode's Project to Help You Opt Out

Introduction

This will be a place to simply track and combine all of the tools I recommend you take a look at each week with a simple description and some links.

Episode 1 - Matrix/Element

This week, I’d recommend you take a look at Matrix, a privacy-preserving, federated messaging protocol and platform. I’ve created a channel on Matrix for anyone who wants to chat more about the podcast, the topics discussed, or the guests we have on each episode, as Matrix allows for excellent encrypted chats. Matrix is a great step forward for group messaging and provides a strong privacy-preserving and censorship-resistant platform.

For beginners, I’d recommend you check out the Element application, available on all major platforms, and dive into a great take on group messaging. Matrix also uses end-to-end encrypted private messages by default along with end-to-end encrypted group chats, if desired. There are many clients available, though, so feel free to check out another one if Element isn’t a great fit for you!

For more advanced listeners, you can setup your own Matrix homeserver, called “Synapse”, to host your own rooms, communities, and chats while federating with any other homeservers you see fit.

Episode 2 - CalyxOS

While we've already talked about it a good bit today with k3tan, I wanted to circle back to CalyxOS as this week's project to help you Opt Out.

CalyxOS is a privacy-preserving Android mobile OS that allows you to reclaim your privacy while on the go. It comes without Google apps or tracking, but does allow you to run microG, an open-source connector for Google Play Service, something which many apps require to function properly.

I've been using CalyxOS for the past 3mo while loving the experience, and have written down more detailed thoughts along with app recommendations, a simple installation note, and more on my blog at sethsimmons.me.

Episode 3 - Standard Notes

For this week's project to help you Opt Out, I'd recommend you take a look at Standard Notes, an encrypted-by-default notes app that is free and open-source, but does offer subscriptions (while accepting Monero!) to Standard Notes Extended. For those that choose to support Standard Notes via a subscription, extensions add a lot of power features including encrypted attachment uploads to your own WebDav server, like Nextcloud, as well as many text editors..

However, the base free version is still extremely powerful, has great encryption defaults, and is an excellent choice for moving off of closed-source and surveilled solutions like Google Keep or Evernote.

Episode 4 - PeerTube

For this week's project to help you opt out, we're taking a look at PeerTube. PeerTube is a federated video platform that allows you to host your content free of trackers and Google's spyware, moderate your own content, and peer with other PeerTube instances as you see fit.

PeerTube is entirely free to run, quite easy to spin up, and I use it for hosting all the video content for Opt Out at videos.optoutpod.com. For those interested in merely consuming content on it, be sure to use a client like NewPipe or FreeTube to connect to your favorite PeerTube instances, or just browse directly to the instance and view through a browser.

Episode 5 - Bitwarden

While it's not necessarily a tool for privacy as much as security, this week's project to help you opt out is Bitwarden, an open-source password manager. Bitwarden greatly simplifies the process of keeping passwords unique and up to date across all of your accounts and identities online with excellent cross-platform apps and browser plugins to make saving and autofilling credentials very straightforward.

I hope many of you already are using a password manager, but if not, or if you are using something else, I'd highly recommend taking a look at Bitwarden. For those who are a bit more advanced, you can also run the back-end server yourself.

Episode 6 - Nitter

This week's project to help you opt out is Nitter, a privacy-preserving front-end for Twitter that allows you to view Tweets, search, and subscribe to users on Twitter via RSS without the tracking and bloat (particularly JavaScript) of native Twitter.

I use Nitter as the default when sharing Twitter links with people to protect their privacy, run an instance for personal usage and for family and friends, and subscribe to some of my favorite accounts via RSS.

If you haven't used it yet I'd highly recommend checking it out either via an "official" instance or Diverter's below and start to transition to using it whenever possible.

Episode 7 - NewPipe

If you're like me and consume a lot of content on YouTube, going without YouTube for privacy reasons can be a painful idea. Thankfully NewPipe is an incredible free open-source Android app that allows you to browse, watch, and download YouTube videos without ads, and requires no Google log-in. It even provides native ways to create playlists, import subscriptions directly from YouTube, and keep up to date with your latest channels.

NewPipe does all of this while helping to protect your privacy by removing all unnecessary queries to Google servers, blocking ads and trackers, and allowing you to maximize consumption off-line whenever possible.

They even have their own F-Droid repository for rapid updates for those using F-Droid. I highly recommend checking out NewPipe today if you're on Android and haven't yet, or if you already use and love their app, consider donating to help them keep up the good work!

Episode 8 - Threema

For this week's project to help you Opt Out, I'd recommend you take a look at an excellent messaging app in Threema. Threema has been around for quite a few years, but at the communities request open-sourced their messenger and have created an excellent messaging platform that is end-to-end encrypted by-default, exposes very little metadata, and supports both direct and group messaging. Threema also has built-in video/audio calls that are E2EE, so it's a great alternative to Signal in every way.

I have personally switched to using Threema for all non-family chats to help protect my privacy by not needing to share my phone number, as well as several large group chats that I have migrated from Signal or Matrix.

It's important to note that while Threema is FOSS, it is *not* free, and costs $5 for a license -- however, that can be a great thing, as it makes Threema sustainable and makes it easy to support what they are doing. I'd recommend purchasing Threema with Bitcoin, if possible, or reaching out to them to ask for Monero support, but they accept many different payment methods for the app.

If you're on CalyxOS or similar, you will need to get the APK directly from their web store, but if you're on normal Android or iOS you can get (and pay for) Threema directly within your app store.