What was the very last thing you looked for on-line? For me, it was “$120 in kilos.” Earlier than that, I needed to know the capital of Albania (Tirana), the Twitter deal with of Liberal Democrat deputy chief Ed Davey (he’s @EdwardJDavey), and dates of financial institution holidays within the UK for 2019 (it’s a late Easter subsequent 12 months, people). Thrilling, I’m certain you’ll agree. However one thing makes these searches, in web phrases, a bit uncommon. Shock, horror, I didn’t use Google. I used DuckDuckGo. And, after two years within the wilderness, I’m fairly certain I’m bought on a post-Google future.
This story initially appeared on WIRED UK.
It began with a realization: Most the issues I seek for are straightforward to search out. Did I actually need the all-seeing, all-knowing algorithms of Google to help me? Most likely not. So I made a easy change: I opened up Firefox on my Android telephone and switched Google seek for DuckDuckGo. Consequently, I’ve had a reasonably tedious however essential revelation: I seek for actually apparent stuff. Google’s personal knowledge backs this up. Its annual round-up of essentially the most searched-for phrases is principally an inventory of names and occasions: World Cup, Avicii, Mac Miller, Stan Lee, Black Panther, Megan Markle. The checklist goes on. And I don’t want to purchase into Google’s leviathan community of privacy-invading trackers to search out out what Black Panther is and once I can go and see it at my native cinema.
Whereas I proceed to make use of Google at work (extra out of necessity, as my employer runs on G-Suite), on my telephone I’m all about DuckDuckGo. I had, primarily based on zero proof, satisfied myself that discovering issues on the web was laborious and, inevitably, concerned a good quantity of monitoring. After two years of not being tracked and focused, I’ve slowly come to understand that that is nonsense.
DuckDuckGo works in broadly the identical approach as some other search engine, Google included. It combines knowledge from tons of of sources, together with Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia and Bing, with its personal net crawler to floor essentially the most related outcomes. Google does precisely the identical, albeit on a considerably bigger scale. The important thing distinction: DuckDuckGo doesn’t retailer IP addresses or consumer info.
Billed because the search engine that doesn’t observe you, DuckDuckGo processes round 1.5 billion searches each month. Google, for distinction, processes round 3.5 billion searches per day. It’s hardly a good struggle, however DuckDuckGo is rising. In 2012 it averaged simply 45 million searches monthly. Whereas Google nonetheless operates in a distinct universe, the precise distinction within the outcomes you see whenever you search isn’t to date aside. In truth, in lots of respects, DuckDuckGo is healthier. Its search outcomes aren’t affected by Google services—containers and carousels to attempt to persuade folks to spend extra time in Google’s household of apps.
Seek for, say, “Iron Man 2” and Google will first let you know the film will be bought from Google Play or YouTube from £9.99. It should then counsel you play a trailer for the movie on, the place else, YouTube. The movie can be “preferred” by 92 p.c of Google customers, and folks trying to find this additionally seek for, you guessed it, Iron Man and Iron Man 3. The identical search on DuckDuckGo pulls in a snippet from Wikipedia and fast hyperlinks to search out out extra on IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon, or iTunes. For essentially the most half, the highest of Google’s web page of outcomes directs you towards extra Google services.
Go additional nonetheless and seek for “Iron Man 2 forged” and Google shows a carousel of names and footage proper on the prime of the web page. Consequently, 50 p.c of all Google searches now finish with out a click on. Nice for Google, unhealthy for the checklist of internet sites beneath that additionally comprise this info and that you’ll by no means go to. Do the identical search on DuckDuckGo and the highest result’s IMDb. It would sound small however points like this are basic to how the web works—and who makes essentially the most cash from it. Google’s prioritization of its outcomes, and a perceived bias towards its personal services, has landed the corporate in sizzling water with the European Fee, which fined slapped it with multibillion-pound fines and has launched investigation after investigation into alleged anticompetitive conduct. What’s good for Google, the fee argues, isn’t essentially good for customers or rivals.
Then there’s privateness. Seek for one thing on DuckDuckGo and, for essentially the most half, you simply get an inventory of hyperlinks or a easy snippet with precisely the knowledge you had been on the lookout for. And it does all this with out storing or monitoring your search historical past. Neither is what you seek for collected and shared with advertisers, permitting them to micro-target you with a myriad of stuff you’re by no means seemingly to purchase. The advertisements you do see in DuckDuckGo, which the corporate says deliver in additional than sufficient cash to function, are extra basic. My seek for financial institution holidays within the UK returned an advert for a bundle vacation firm.