By Jamie Busby
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that was created in 2008. It does not track you which translates as search results that are truly "organic". It cannot personalise search results as it simply does not keep a personal profile of it's users, unlike Google...
Google has an instant answer feature when you search; it distills your search into an answer in a box at the top of the page, above the rest of the results. This feature was copied directly from DuckDuckGo.
Search engines are the first place you go when using the Internet, they are the gateway to what the web offers.
Between September 2017 and September 2018, Google was used for over 92% of worldwide Internet searches. Small changes to algorithms and everything else Google uses to decide what to show you can clearly have a huge impact on how any subject is perceived by more than 90% of the people.
Google is creating online tools all the time, you will see them when you search for something as they will be displayed above your search results. An example of this is the "People also ask" section which contains what they deem to be relevant topics. It's possible to get trapped in the "People also ask" section, trust me...
On Google, I typed "is Google spying on me" into the search bar. I got the following "instant answer" in a box at the top of the page;
"A lot of people are worried that voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri or the Google Assistant are spying on us at home. All three companies have said the assistants are not listening all the time, but only listen for a wake word — or perhaps hidden commands humans can't hear."
As we now know, the answer to the original question I typed in is that Google is indeed spying on you; Google stores as much information as it possibly can on all of us. They have diverted the results by giving details of their and other tech giant's "voice assistant" devices; that is not what I asked for.
The average person has no idea what Google knows about them or the extent to which they use that information. Google has page after excruciating page of vague jargon explaining it's terms of service. But even if you set your privacy settings to the most secure possible, Google will just track you regardless anyway!
Google can and does know your location, read your emails, keep a log of your browsing history and can even track what you buy even if done offline. This is SPYING.
A truly organic search should index pages based on what you typed into the search bar, the results should reflect that. They should logically be ranked according to relevance to what you are searching for. DuckDuckGo operates in this way; but Google is a manipulator.
Google is showing you THEIR agenda, not necessarily what you searched for.
Going back to the "instant answer" feature, Google displays these at the top of the page. This means you have to scroll down to find what you actually searched for and if you're anything like me, you've probably forgotten why you're there by that point... DuckDuckGo puts their instant answers to the side of the page; big difference. It's unobtrusive.
Google will also completely cut out search results it doesn't want seen. When I tested this with the search "is Google spying on me", I noticed that Google did not include an article by The Guardian telling me that Google's Chrome browser is capable of turning on your device's microphone and recording audio without your consent.
This result is 3rd in the list if you type "is Google spying on me" into DuckDuckGo but Google makes something of a compromise by including a semi-related Guardian article that is much less inflammatory.
Google is all about controlling what we see. Everything about DuckDuckGo's business model is contrary to that of Google, this is how Google created it's monopoly. But Google felt threatened by the transparency of their little rival, so what did they do? In 2013, they bought the domain name "Duck.com" which they used to redirect people to Google.
The founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, claimed that Google made it almost impossible for Chrome users on IOS or Android to change their default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo, or anything else for that matter.
In July of this year, Google were fined $5 BILLION by the EU for abusing it's "market dominance"; a.k.a. Monopoly. For DuckDuckGo, it meant that Googlers could actually be manually redirected to their search engine but to this day, Google are refusing to sell them the Duck.com domain name.
Social media platforms create a user-specific experience; this is a problem. It's only intention is to get people to click on adverts and see what THEY want you to see. This is known as the "Filter Bubble" and is seen everywhere.
Search engines are no exception; Google is personalising your search results to the extent that you may only see results that concur with your current opinions and beliefs based off previous browsing history.
DuckDuckGo does not have a filter bubble. It's results are drawn from over 400 sources, including other large search engines like Yahoo and Bing. It also has it's own "webcrawlers" which are bots that browse the Internet for Web Indexing purposes.
All the information that Google collects on you is for the purposes of targeted advertising campaigns and the like; it does not enhance an organic search in any other way whatsoever.
The differences between the same search on Google as opposed to DuckDuckGo can be dramatically different, especially with regards to controversial or political topics.
Using the search term "is climate change a hoax", the difference in results is apparent immediately. DuckDuckGo ranks websites that deny climate change at the top, that is after all what you searched for.
However, the first page of Google results displays articles that are very non-committal when it comes to the subject of climate change being a hoax. Many of them simply confirm climate change is real; this is a highly nuanced but very real difference.
The only article that the 2 search engines have in common on their first page of results is a Wikipedia article on the "Global warming conspiracy theory".
Google has literally taken responsibilty for finding out information away from their users. They are deciding what people should or shouldn't see and making up the rules as they go along. Google has admitted that they manipulate search results for their own agenda.
2016 - Trump v Hillary
During the 2016 election campaigns, Google was thought to be supporting Hillary Clinton. Search bar "auto-complete" suggestions for Hillary that had anything to do with the word "crime" were filtered out.
Fox News at the time reported that if you typed "Hillary Clinton cri" into Google, the auto-complete function only offered "crime reform", "crisis" and "crime bill 1994" as options.
However, when you typed the same into Yahoo or Bing, they suggested "criminal charges", "criminal", "crimes" and so forth. Quite a difference, suspiciously so...
Google claimed that they do this with every "established" personality; it was true. If you type "Donald Trump" into Google, they filter out "misconduct" and "allegations".
When you type in "Clinton Foundation", it filters out "scandal", "corruption" and "investigation".
This was contrary to the auto-completions offered by DuckDuckGo. Why do Google do this?
They explained in an official statement; "Our policy is to not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person's name."
That's very kind of them... But what about the fact that a search engine's purpose is to show it's users all the information available? Good or bad. Why do they get to choose?
Google should just let it's algorithm run and show us the Internet for what it is. But No, they've decided to show the Internet how Google thinks it should be. And they expect us to believe that they are just a search engine?
Call me paranoid, but it seems a lot more like a selective propaganda machine...
DuckDuckGo is no competition to Google in the sense of being a threat to it's market share. All the relevant figures prove this, it's market share being around 0.23% compared to over 90% for Google.
However, it is a choice for Internet users who want to surf the web privately. And neutrally; it's free from the engineered bias of Google.
If you feel you'd like get away from overt censorship and what amounts to nothing less than mass surveillance, maybe you should give DuckDuckGo a go.
Contact me by email: [email protected]
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