Can we not use YouTube?

I don’t mean that question in the physical sense, as in, is it possible. Or in the literal sense, as in using some sort of frontend wouldn’t be “YouTube”.

My question is, and this is an open one, can we afford not to use the platform?

Sure, there’s a lot of content on it that’s at best " of no use" to society, but there’s also an incalculable amount of factual and educational videos on there.

I also know there are alternatives, such as PeerTube and LBRY, but we have to be honest with ourselves here: we’re not going to find even 10% of the creators we want to, or should be watching on both of those platforms combined.

I believe there are private ways to access videos from the platform, which for better or worse (it’s worse) is practically the video repository, but the fact that I’m using a Google service still feels uncomfortable.

Even if they aren’t collecting all my data through my usage of it, they’re nonetheless a company built on such practices. Am I not in some way surrending to this practice by using the service? Condoning it?

The problem is, should I choose to categorically avoid the platform, I miss out on a wealth of knowledge it contains. How do you make the right choice?

I think it’s worth to ask does it matter who owns your data? Personally I don’t really care Google might have some idea what video’s I watch. Although I doubt they can connect it to me automatically they surely could estimate it somewhat it out if they wanted to. But do I care? No. Frankly they can’t use the data to target me as I don’t see any of their ads and don’t use any other Google stuff using the same identifiers. You really should look into threat modeling and risk analysis/mitigation.

Honestly what matters most to me here is who owns the videos. We shouldn’t depend on one company for all videos we watch online. Unfortunately there aren’t many alternatives though.