Thoughts on alternate frontend sites? (Invidious, Nitter, Libreddit, etc.)

A recommendation I see occasionally thrown around the privacy community is to use frontends such as Invidious to mitigate whatever data collection happens on the platform’s normal site, in this case YouTube. Over the years, I’ve tried out a couple of these services and I remain skeptical. These sites seem pretty unchecked, and their owners can do whatever they want with them, is it really a good idea to trust these random servers over the stock site?

Obviously some of these sites, namely Nitter, have utility outside of privacy, considering the default Twitter site is nearly impossible to use without an account. I’m solely focusing on the privacy aspect of these services.

YouTube will collect data even if you’re not logged in, but even with that is it worth trusting someone’s home-server over whatever Google keeps on it’s no-login users?

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I just use RSS feeds. And if a site doesn’t provide them, I try to auto-generate it with rss.app or Inoreader. There’s also openrss.org that provides RSS feeds for Twitter.

YouTube is NewPipe on Android, it there is a better option i really don’t need to know.
There is one thing I would change and it is device specific.

As always, it depends on your threat model. Alternative frontends have their pros and cons.
I am going to assume that you do not use any add ons to automatically redirect you to these privacy respecting websites (increase of fingerprinting).

Generally speaking, alternative frontends can be really amazing. You mentioned Invidious. This has some straight up “better than YouTube” points, like no advertisements an less tracking (never assume that a service has zero tracking) are two examples. These also apply to pretty much every other alternative frontend. This also doesn’t have the “YouTube collects data of you” problem due to how Invidious works.
Wikiless has no JS and let’s you access articles that are censored/unavailable in your country on Wikipedia. Another win for alternative frontends.
If you’re in Russia, Instagram is currently not available. Alternative frontends (like Bibliogram) should be available tho. The third win for alternative frontends.

What applies in general to every alt frontend: Google and so on make money of you being a person, these alt frontends generally are run and developed by enthusiasts and make money of donations. This generally speaking makes alt frontends more trustworthy.

But here is the huge problem with all of them: Google and Meta spend millions, probably even billions of Dollars on making their services much more secure. How about alternative frontends? How secure are they? Do you actually want to log in/make an account there?
Would you mind Google, Meta and so on deleting your account if you violate the terms of service with using the alt frontend?

In conclusion: Lots of alt frontends are worth it, as they solve some issues these services have. They aren’t perfect, but for most people much better than using the original service. It is a bad choice if you make money on the services, like if you are a YouTuber.

Note: This is not advice, just my personal opinion

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Meta stored their user credentials in plaintext (in 2016) my guess is they paid the sysadmin a cup of cheap coffee. It’s a tradition to get breached at Facebook every year at-least once.

IMHO, no. It’s not a good idea to trust random guys to do the right thing.
But luckily a third option exists: using Freetube and Newpipe and it also happens to be really private.

no JS

I don’t know why JS gets so hate from the privacy community. Sure the language can be abused to make tracking stuff, but tracking stuff can be made using SCSS too and it’s not very hard to do those either.

Nor do I know. Especially as JS is basically Open Source (at least client side)

That I didn’t know. Why would you ever do that…

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I’m a huge fan of Invidious, Piped, Libreddit, Nitter, ProxyTok, Rimgo, WikiLess, Scribe, Libremdb and Lingva as they allow me to access content on really invasive website more privately.
However I would not sign up for an account on a public instance. If you or a friend host a private instance and that you are several people using it I would see no problem don’t creating an account but I won’t do one on someone’s instance that I don’t know/trust

Many privacy front-end such as Libreddit or Nitter don’t let you signing up anyway.

Always read the privacy policy of the front-end AND the public instance you are using it’s usually short as it’s not Big Tech bullshit

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I think a lot of it is about trust. Who would you rather trust with your data: A giant company, where you’re just a data point; Or Alan Smithy, who’s hosting a server, where his audience is so small, he could potentially be looking at everything you do. Who do you trust? What if I told you some of these hosts also host their own Linux server (where you pull packages from). Does that make a difference? If so, why?

It’s all good in saying, just look at a Privacy Policy, but do you trust that person, with no legal experience (likely copy & pasted from somewhere), and doesn’t grasp the consequences of not following through with that policy? Even if it’s open source, have you read that code? Could there be a an issue, or oversight, where the host could have access to data, you wouldn’t expect? It’s not like this stuff has not happened.

In my opinion, it’s personal preference. Go with whatever YOU feel is better. Personally, I really like Nitter and Wikiless. I use them quite often. Invidious and Piped are too unstable for me to use reliably. Libreddit is cool, but I prefer old.reddit (and a blocking extension), and the ability to use an account (no personal info tied to it). I could go on. Just use what you feel works best for your workflow. it’s not an all or nothing deal.

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anybody use infogalactic.com? fuck wikipedia.