For many years websites have collected user data to sell to third party sites or use for their targeted advertising.
The best known examples include Facebook and Google.
Running an ad or showing relevant search results about the shoes you wanted seemed like a relatively harmless use of personal data that worked (which seemed to) to everyone’s benefit.
Then the data scandals started.
From the Microsoft Hotmail scandal to Cambridge Analytica to the Zoom scandal of 2020, online users have felt the sting of data leaks.
These scandals have made users more aware of how their data is being used on the web – and left many wondering how to have more privacy online.
What is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is a search engine created by Gabriel Weinberg in 2008. This search engine is dedicated to the online privacy of its users.
Their search features include:
- Local businesses respond.
- Products and purchases.
- Wikipedia references.
- Currency conversions.
- Flight information.
- Sports results.
- Q&A references.
DuckDuckGo also includes what they call bonus features:
- Shortcut commands that take you directly to other websites from the search engine.
- Language and region localization.
- Customizable themes, including a dark theme.
DuckDuckGo also offers apps and extensions for various operating systems and browsers.
So you can still use Chrome, Safari or any other favorite browser and avoid being tracked.
DuckDuckGo User Statistics
DuckDuckGo is the second most popular mobile search engine in the United States
DuckDuckGo users made over 8 billion search queries in the first quarter of 2022.
DuckDuckGo holds 0.68% of the search engine market share globally.
However, in the United States, DuckDuckGo holds 2.51% of the search engine market share.
The DuckDuckGo Chrome extension app has over six million users.
Advertising on DuckDuckGo is 10 times cheaper than Google.
DuckDuckGo has raised $13 million in funds.
DuckDuckGo operates with a staff of 172 people.
How is DuckDuckGo different from other search engines?
When you visit a website, that website logs your IP address through network routers, so they know where to send the information.
Typically, a website stores your IP address and data.
However, DuckDuckGo promises to hide your IP address when using its search engine.
When you click on a search result, the link redirects the request for information to prevent it from sending your search terms to the site.
Essentially, the sites know that you visited them, but they don’t know from where or with what keywords.
Additionally, to provide a personalized search experience, Google, Yahoo, and Bing track your search history and personal data (even in incognito mode).
This practice helps these search engines deliver targeted advertisements and personalized search results.
DuckDuckGo takes the opposite approach to other search engines.
DuckDuckGo promises to avoid collecting this data so you can escape what they call the “filter bubble”.
DuckDuckGo search results are not personalized based on your personal preferences, search history or location.
No search history stored
Think about all the things you search for online: medical information, financial solutions, location-based queries, etc.
Some of this research can be quite personal.
Other major search engines sell this information to advertisers so they can serve you personalized ads.
DuckDuckGo promises to never store your search history, ever.
Every time you use DuckDuckGo’s browser, you can expect a new search result.
So how do they make money?
By continuing to serve you ads, of course.
However, the difference is that DuckDuckGo targets the keywords you search for instead of being based on you.
So if you search for pens, it will show you advertisements for pens.
However, if you then search for stationery, it will show you ads for stationery.
No third-party trackers
Did you know that Google tracks website visitors on 86% of the world’s top 50,000 websites?
Indeed, many sites use Google Analytics to track visitors. Additionally, Google runs three of the largest non-search ad networks that most sites use: Adsense, Admob, and DoubleClick.
So it’s hard to get away from Google. Yahoo and Bing also track your internet usage to build profiles about you.
Facebook is another tech giant that follows users behind the scenes.
However, their coverage is only 36% of top websites.
DuckDuckGo’s browser and mobile app promise to block trackers from other search engines, Facebook, and other trackers.
So for those looking to remain anonymous when venturing outside of search engines, DuckDuckGo might be your answer.
Have you ever heard of the filter bubble?
The filter bubble occurs when users encounter information that reinforces their own beliefs.
Considering that Google, Bing, and Yahoo are best known for delivering personalized search results, you can imagine this happens frequently.
What does this mean for researchers?
If you have political leanings or other ideologies, the major search engines remember that and filter out content they think you’ll ignore.
Therefore, you are more likely to get results you already agree with.
DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, believes that search results should be unbiased.
Therefore, their search results page gives everyone the same results, regardless of their political preferences, cultural biases, or other demographics.
What robot does DuckDuckGo use?
DuckDuckGo uses over 400 sources to provide results, including sources such as:
- Apple Cards.
- Wolfram Alpha.
They also use DuckDuckBot, their web crawler, and other crowdsourcing sites like Wikipedia to generate their equivalent of a snippet.
However, they explicitly confirm that they do not use any Google sources.
This is reassuring for those who want their Internet use to remain private.
Advantages and disadvantages of DuckDuckGo
Although Google is still the big man at the top, the number of DuckDuckGo users is steadily increasing.
They don’t track users, so it’s impossible to get an exact number.
But DuckDuckGo reported that 80 million people used their search engine in November 2020.
Although DuckDuckGo may seem like the ideal solution for those with privacy concerns, this alternative search engine has its pros and cons.
Advantages of DuckDuckGo:
- Absolute confidentiality when researching.
- Bangs shortcuts to take you directly to a website.
- Clean interface.
- No targeted advertising.
- Unbiased search results.
- Search results on one page.
- No social engineering based on your research.
Cons of DuckDuckGo:
- Not as many search engine benefits as Google, Yahoo or Bing.
- The search algorithm is not as advanced.
- Limited search results.
- No malware or virus protection.
- Low ranking factors.
- Mapping and image results are not as good.
If you value your online privacy and don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to research, then DuckDuckGo is a viable alternative.
However, if you love all the bells and whistles of other major search engines, remember that these luxuries come at a cost.
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