Yesterday, I wrote about Delta Chat and Chat over IMAP. To be able to chat using email, you need an account at an email provider.
Many people use Gmail, with over 1.5 billion users it's probably the biggest email provider out there, people already joke, Google owns email.
But email at it's core is decentralized. You can use whatever provider you like and still communicate with the rest of the world. If you're really crazy, you can even setup your own mail server. (Although that's a really tough thing and even experienced people often don't want to do this.)
Because Gmail has so many users, this leads to Google having huge power. Google can disable IMAP by default, so that it's a lot harder for people to chose their own mail client (like Thunderbird) and use the official client where they present their users with ads. Or they “invent” interactive emails, where they use AMP in emails. I really don't like this and agree with this Hacker News comment.
Because you don't pay for Gmail (unless you are a G-Suite customer), you are the product. Gmail uses your data and scans your emails to personalize ads to you.
I believe that only if you pay for services like email, you really stay in control of your data and don't become the product of the service provider. For just a few bucks a year or month, there are great email providers out there, that respect your privacy and deliver a reliable service.
Also because you can vote with your money (switch the provider if you aren't happy anymore), you don't become a victim of happenings like the sunsetting of Inbox by Gmail anymore, because the provider doesn't want to lose you as a customer.
To stay truly independent from your email provider, you should use a custom domain for emails, but that's a topic for tomorrow…