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DuckDuckGO

DuckDuckGo

The Internet privacy company that empowers you to seamlessly take control of your personal information online, without any tradeoffs.

Are we too lazy to go with the better option! Here’s why DuckDuckGo is better.

#1 — Google tracks us. It doesn’t.

We share our most intimate secrets with our search engine without even thinking: medical, financial and personal issues, along with all the day to day things that make you, well, you. All of that personal information should be private, but on Google, it’s not. On Google, our searches are tracked, mined, and packaged up into a data profile for advertisers to follow you around the Internet through those intrusive and annoying ever-present banner ads, using Google’s massive ad networks, embedded across millions of sites and apps.

So-called incognito mode won’t protect you either. That’s a myth. “Incognito” mode isn’t really incognito at all. It’s an extremely misleading name and in my opinion, should be changed. All it does is delete your local browsing history after your session on your device but does nothing from stopping any website you visit, including Google, from tracking you via your IP address and other tracking mechanisms like browser fingerprinting.

To keep your searches private and out of data profiles, the government, and other legal requests, you need to use DuckDuckGo. It doesn’t track you at all, regardless what browsing mode you are in.

Each time you search on DuckDuckGo, it’s as if you’ve never been there before. It simply doesn’t store anything that can tie your searches to you personally, or even tie them together into a search history that could later be tied back to you. For more details, check out their privacy policy.

#2 — Block Google trackers lurking everywhere.

Google tracks you on more than just their search engine. You may realize they also track you on YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Android, Gmaps, and all the other services they run. For those, DuckDuckGo recommends using private alternatives like DuckDuckGo for search. Yes, we can live Google-free.

What we may not realize, though, is Google trackers are actually lurking behind the scenes on 75% of the top million websites. To give you a sense of how large that is, Facebook is the next closest with 25%. It’s a good bet that any random site you land on the Internet will have a Google tracker hiding on it. Between the two of them, they are truly dominating online advertising, by some measures literally making up 74%+ of all its growth. A key component of how they have managed to do that is through all these hidden trackers.

Google Analytics is installed on most sites, tracking you behind the scenes, letting website owners know who is visiting their sites, but also feeding that information back to Google. Same for the ads themselves, with Google running three of the largest non-search ad networks installed on millions of sites and apps: Adsense, Admob, and DoubleClick.

At DuckDuckGo, they’ve expanded beyond our roots in search, to protect us no matter where you go on the Internet. DuckDuckGo browser extension and mobile app is available for all major browsers and devices, and blocks these Google trackers, along with the ones from Facebook and countless other data brokers. They do even more to protect us as well as providing smarter encryption.

#3 — Get unbiased results, outside the Filter Bubble.

When we search, we expect unbiased results, but that’s not what we get on Google. On Google, we get results tailored to what they think you’re likely to click on, based on the data profile they’ve built on us over time from all that tracking I described above.

That may appear at first blush to be a good thing, but when most people say they want personalization in a search context they actually want localization. They want local weather and restaurants, which can actually be provided without tracking like they do at DuckDuckGo. That’s because approximate location info is automatically embedded by our computer in the search request, which it can use to serve our local results and immediately throw away without tracking us.

Beyond localization, personalized results are dangerous because to show our results they think you’ll click on, they must filter results they think you’ll skip. That’s why it’s called the Filter Bubble.

So if we have political leanings one way or another, we’re more likely to get results you already agree with and less likely to ever see opposing viewpoints. In the aggregate, this leads to increased echo chambers that are significantly contributing to our increasingly polarized society.

This Filter Bubble is especially pernicious in a search context because we have the expectation that we’re seeing what others are seeing, that we’re seeing the “results.” We’ve done studies over the years where it has people search for the same topics on Google at the same time and in “Incognito” mode and found they are significantly tailored.

On DuckDuckGo, they are committed to not putting you in the Filter Bubble. They don’t even force people into a local country index unless we explicitly opt-in.

#4 — It listens.

Google is notoriously hard to get a hold of. Locked out of Gmail account? Sorry, it can’t help you. The Knowledge Graph says you’re dead? That’s unfortunate. Unless we’re a journalist or influencer of some kind, good luck getting anyone at Google to listen.

Meanwhile, at DuckDuckGo, they read every piece of feedback they get. They respond on social media. In short, it listens.

#5 — It doesn’t try to trap us in their “ecosystem.”

we used to be that we search on Google and then we click off to the top result. Over time, Google bought m

DuckDuckGO

ore and more companies and launched more and more of their own competing services, favoring them over others in their search results. Google Places instead of Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. Google Products instead of Amazon, Target, etc. They’re in travel, health, and soon jobs. Anywhere there is money to be made, you can expect them to get into it eventually.

Even when we do click off, Google AMP tries to still trap us in Google. And these tactics are not just in the search engine.

On Android, there is immovable Google search widget and we can’t even change its search engine if we want to. This behavior is a direct analog to Microsoft putting IE on Windows in the 1990s, but worse since we can’t remove it, can’t replace it, and it takes up more of the smaller screen. The same is true for other Google services on Android as well, forcing carriers to bundle and promote them. It personally has similar issues with Chrome search engine integration.

At DuckDuckGo, they aren’t trying to take over the world. It doesn’t have an “ecosystem” to trap you in. It just wants to help us get to where we want to go as fast as possible and protect us as much as it can in that process.

#6 — They have !bangs.

To further this point, they have a built-in feature called bangs that enables you to search other sites directly, completely skipping DuckDuckGo if we like. Here’s how it works. Let’s say we know we want to go to the Wikipedia article for ducks. we just search for “!w duck” and it will take us right there.

The ! tells DuckDuckGo we want to use a bang shortcut, and the w is an abbreviation for Wikipedia. You can use the full name, though they have a lot of shortcuts such as !a for Amazon, !r for Reddit, etc. There are literally thousands of sites that this feature works with, and so most sites we think of will probably work. It also works with our autocomplete so we can see what’s there easily.

If we routinely search a particular site, like Stack Overflow for coding answers or Baseball Reference for stats or All Recipes for something to make, you can just go right there.

If DuckDuckGo is our default search engine, we can just type this right into our browser’s address bar, and skip loading our search engine altogether. It will just route us to the right place, without tracking us of course!

#7 — It strives for a world where we have control over our personal information.

Their vision is to raise the standard of trust online. If we share this vision, supporting DuckDuckGo helps us make progress towards it. For the past seven years, they’ve been donating a substantial portion of their profits to organizations that also work towards the Internet we want — an open Internet where we can take control of our personal information.

It believes that privacy policies shouldn’t be the default “collect it all,” but instead offer a clear and compelling case as to what benefits us get by giving up our personal information. If we share this view for the future of data privacy, we can vote with our feet.

#8 — The search results aren’t loaded up with ads.

For many Google searches, the entire first page is ads. On mobile, it can be even worse, multiple pages of ads. Not so on DuckDuckGo. It keeps ads to a minimum, and naturally, they’re non-tracking ads, based only on search keywords and not on a personal profile or search history.

#9 — Search without fear.

When people know they are being watched, they change their behavior. It’s a well-documented behavior called the chilling effect, and it happens on Google. For example, an MIT study showed that people started doing fewer health searches on Google after the Snowden revelations, fearing that their personal ailments might get out.

“Suppressing health information searches potentially harms the health of search engine users and… In general, their results suggest that there is a chilling effect on search behavior from government surveillance on the Internet.”

Our searches are our business, and we should feel free to search whatever we want, whenever we want. We can easily escape this chilling effect on DuckDuckGo where we are anonymous.

#10 — Google is simply too big, and too powerful.

Google is GIANT, the epitome of Silicon Valley big tech, with a market cap of around 750 Billion dollars (at the time of writing), 75,000 employees, dominating search, browsing, online advertising, and more, with tentacles in everything tech, online and offline. Last year they outspent every other company on lobbying Washington.

By comparison, DuckDuckGo is tiny. They’re currently a team of about 45 people, scattered across the globe. They have a very narrow focus: helping us take control of our personal information online.

The world could use more competition, less focus on ad tracking, fewer eggs in one basket.

 

#Source: Gabriel Weinberg, CEO & Founder at DuckDuckGo (2008-present)

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