DuckDuckGo has been gaining momentum at this time when personal privacy has become a heated topic due to its value proposition – the search engine that doesn’t track you.
We live in an age where the rabid race for data is coming to the fore. Where once only cybercriminals tried to steal our data, legitimate companies such as Facebook and Google are today robbing us of ours.
Unlike those companies, DuckDuckGo was built with user privacy at its heart. But what makes a company build a product like this and is it really possible?
Let’s explore the world of this strangely-named web browser today.
The DuckDuckGo Story
DuckDuckGo is owned by an Internet privacy company with the same name as the product itself – DuckDuckGo. It’s based in Paoli, Pennsylvania, in the Greater Philadelphia region.
DuckDuckGo was founded on 29th February 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg. As with many great things, it started out from a basement with a grand plan – the desire to hatch a better search engine experience.
Within the year on 25th September, DuckDuckGo was officially launched and announced to the Hacker News and Reddit communities. On 15th March 2010, DuckDuckGo announced that it would not track user search history, paving the way for what it has become today.
Gabriel was the only full timer for years until Caine Tighe joined the company on 30th November 2011. By 2012, DuckDuckGo was seeing over a million searches per day, growing to over 50 billion by June 2020.
Why Use DuckDuckGo?
Why would you want to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google? After all, Google is not only the biggest and most popular search engine, it has earned the title of ‘master of searches’ too. However, there are reasons that spur people to turn to DuckDuckGo instead of providers like Google.
1. Google is Watching You
Most people have been using Google all their lives, so much so that many don’t realize how much they’ve shared with the company: medical, financial, personal interests, along with everything else so often considered personal.
Google tracks, mines, and packages your searches into a data profile for advertisers to follow you around the Internet. That’s how you get all these intrusive and annoying ever-present banner ads that creepily remind you of everything you’ve ever searched for.
Simply put, Google watches you to empower their ad networks. Such ads then follow you around the Internet using your search history and other information they have on you.
Even the so-called incognito mode won’t fully protect you as all it does is remove your local browsing history on your device after your session is done. DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, doesn’t track you at all, regardless what browsing mode you are in.
Each time you use DuckDuckGo, it’s as if you’ve never been there before. DuckDuckGo does not store anything that can tie your searches to you personally. It does not even tie them together into a search history that could later be tracked back to you.
2. Google Trackers Are Lurking Everywhere
Bear in mind that companies like Google also track you across multiple products. We often use products not knowing that they may be owned by the same company – and data is shared on multiple platforms.
In Google’s case, this can include YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Android, Gmaps and so many other services many people use. Did you know that Google trackers are actually lurking behind the scenes on 75% of all popular websites?
DuckDuckGo’s browser extension and mobile app are available for all major browsers and devices. They actually work to block these trackers – not just from Google, but all services.
3. Get Out the Filter Bubble and Get Unbiased Results
When you do a search, we often take it for granted that we’re being shown unfiltered results. In reality though, that’s not really what you get with most services. They often show us what they think we want or need to see.
While this can work in some cases, it can also be construed as trying to shape our behavior. What happens in the case of bias? It really isn’t as clear cut as many of us think it may be.
For example, if you have political leanings one way or another, you’re more likely to get results you already agree with and less likely to read the opposing viewpoints. This could significantly contribute to what has become an increasingly polarized society.
4. Search Results That Aren’t Overly Loaded with Ads
Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo keeps ads to a minimum and they’re non-tracking. They’re simply based on keywords search and not on a personal profile or search history.
When you search ‘cheese’, DuckDuckGo simply shows you a cheese ad without knowing anything about you. It’s all based on the keywords you type in. DuckDuckGo believes that you can make money in web search without tracking people.
Downsides to DuckDuckGo
Despite the many advantages that DuckDuckGo has, it is still a budding search engine that isn’t on par with Google yet. Despite DuckDuckGo’s best efforts to provide you with ‘smarter and better’ searches, it’s not able to match Google for sheer accuracy and intuition.
Search results given by DuckDuckGo will always be the same regardless of who or when this search is done. Some of you want this unbiased approach, whereas some of you may actually prefer a more refined and personalized approach.
The reality is that how the searches are interpreted and worked on is so subjective – a double-edged sword and highly depends on the user’s preferences and inclinations.
DuckDuckGo is indeed a budding search engine but to get the most out of it, you’ll have to make a conscious change in your online habits. It isn’t a simple switch from one search engine for another and expecting the same results.
You’ll need to actively contribute to the search engine to help make it better. Whatever it is, in terms of privacy, DuckDuckGo is substantially a better choice compared to most service providers.